Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Concrete Punch

I trotted down my driveway around 6:15 intending to do my three-mile loop. At the last moment I swerved away from my usual course and decided to do three-mile loop Version B. "Something different, for once," I thought. I was motoring along the sidewalk when my left foot caught the edge of an upthrust slab of concrete. Instantly I was airborne, arms flailing. I desperately tried to get my right leg up and under me. If it hadn't rained overnight I might have succeeded, but instead my shoe failed to grip the wet pavement and I was going down. My left knee hit first, followed by my left palm which I had thrust out to catch myself. Scrape. Fail. My body turned and I fell onto my right arm, hand trapped under me and grinding on the ground. Then my chin hit, just under my jaw on the right side. Finally, the worst of all: forehead, meet concrete. My scrambling had done nothing to check my descent to the pavement. The pain as my head connected with the ground was stunning, instantaneous, overwhelming. The knob on the pain-o-meter was cranked past eleven so hard and fast it broke.


This all happened in about two seconds, but I saw the rain-darkened surface rushing toward my face and knew it was going to be bad. I turned my head slightly, which I think saved my teeth and nose from being broken (good for me, bad for my dentist).

My head ricocheted and I barrel rolled onto someone's lawn, fetching up on my knees and forearms. I cradled my head gently, hand against the spot above my eye, cool wet grass against my face, soaking through my pants and shirt. I could do little more than croak "Oh my God" a few times and then I started panting because I felt like I was going to barf right there on that nice tidy Chelsea lawn. I had two thoughts: one, I really hope I didn't sustain a concussion. Two, I really hope the owner of this house doesn't see me and come outside. I knelt there for a while until the immediate agony subsided and then I slowly got to my feet. All motivation for my run was gone. I had to get home and assess the damage. My hand was throbbing; I looked down and saw blood. My chin was starting to tingle; I had been so consumed by the awfulness of the pain in my head I barely realized my chin was a victim as well. My left hand was stinging like crazy. Even the toes on my left foot hurt where I had stubbed them against that cockeyed slab, that slab which started it all. I looked back and saw it and I GLARED.

I walked the quarter-mile home and went right up to the bathroom to take a look.

The red dot in the center of my forehead was a totally evil pimple I conquered the night before. The little red line above my eyebrow is the culprit. Do not be fooled by its innocent appearance.

Some chin music. If you look really carefully there's a fleck of gray concrete stuck to my face right by the corner of my mouth. 

I discovered a chunk of stone under my ring after I got in the shower. It must have been jammed through the open design when I landed on my hand.  While I was in the shower I started feeling odd, kind of unsteady and vaguely nauseated. I decided it would be best if I finished up quickly because I didn't want to pass out in the shower. I had hit my head one time too many that morning. I went and laid down for about 10 minutes (with Bouhaki, who was all snuggled up under the covers with his head on my pillow...CUTENESS), drank a cup of water, and I was fine. Well, not totally fine, since my face felt like it had been clobbered, but I was upright and functional.

I inspected the development of the scrapes throughout the day and I am happy (?) to report that my chin is swollen and is already blooming into a nice bruise, and my hand and head have darkened up as well.
My middle knuckle took the brunt of it. My poor ring is all gouged up.

 Forehead scrape. It looks like nothing but it felt like being hit with a hammer.
 Thank goodness for big chins, because without mine I probably would have busted my teeth.

I suspect that in the coming days both areas will become a spectrum of colorful bruising. I will take pictures, of course.

Two things to consider:

1. I have been running around town for four years and despite Chelsea's occasionally uneven sidewalks, I have never tripped.

2. Last night I was conversing with the owner of the New Chelsea Market and expressed my preference for running in the dark predawn hours when the streets are quiet and mostly deserted. I said I had never felt anything but comfortable because of the abundant street lights. Never had any problems because I couldn't see where I was going.

I suppose I was asking for it.

It has been zero days since our last accident.

Monday, November 22, 2010

20 on 20

Last weekend I was visiting my ancestral homeland in northeast Ohio and when I'm three weeks out from a marathon and I find myself in the Cleveland area, you know what that means:


Flat as a pancake, no traffic, and with an overabundance of scenery...what could be better?

I was up at 7:00 am Saturday the 20th (hence the title of this post) and on the way to the trail at 7:30. When I arrived shortly before 8:00, there was a scant smattering of cars in the parking lot at the Lock 39 trailhead, which all but assured I would see almost no one else on the path.

Solitude. That's how I roll.

I trotted off at an easy 9:30/mile and allowed my mind and legs to go on autopilot as I listened to my iPod. I kept an eye out for birds and was rewarded with sightings of a red-tailed hawk, a northern flicker, a downy woodpecker, cardinals, chickadees, juncos, blue jays, and mallards. The last time I ran here (March) I saw wood ducks, but no such luck this time.

I turned around ten miles in just after passing the Brandywine ski area in Sagamore Hills. I took a pit stop at mile 11, stripped off my jacket (it was now over 50 degrees) and convinced my weary legs to start moving again. I had nine more miles to cover.

A few weeks ago I trotted fifteen and a half miles and felt hardly a twinge from any body part for the duration of the run. I felt so good I even managed to pull off a couple of sub-9:00 miles at the very end. Not so this time. Everything was protesting loudly, from the balls of my feet to my little toes to my ankles to my calf muscles to my knees to my hips to my back. I forced myself to run four miles straight through to mile 15 whereupon my reward was to walk that entire mile, leaving me with only four miles to finish the run. I made another pit stop at the canal visitor's center with 1.75 miles to go (my GI issues were in rare form that day) and then gritted my teeth and plodded onward. I was so glad to see the information kiosk by the path up to the parking lot come into view. Three and a half hours after I started, it was over. It was the toughest, slowest 20-miler I have ever done, but I got it done.

In less than three weeks I will have to run that far and then 10K more. I am resigned to the fact that this race is going to hurt, and hurt a lot.  This haphazard training season was not to my benefit. However, my body is holding up (mostly) and I am determined to gut this one out. I may have to downshift into a walk/run pattern, which I have never done. So be it. This will be my fifth marathon, and I have nothing to be embarrassed about.

And now, some pictures:

 If you dismantle something historic, you had better make sure you put it back together correctly. There was a construction project taking place at one of the original canal structures, and blocks like this were stacked all over the place, each one marked with chalk.

Left Hand Brewing's Twin SIsters Double IPA. Lunch at the B Spot in Woodmere  before I departed for Michigan on Sunday. I love me some IPAs.

And because there aren't enough cat pictures on the Internet:

Bouhaki helps me fold the Mount Everest of laundry.

Darwin is the perfect lap cat, right down to the question mark tail.

I will be returning to the ancestral homeland with the Engineer for Thanksgiving. A visit to Thirsty Dog Brewing has been placed at the top of my list of Things To Do.
This morning it was unusually warm (58 degrees) and the temperature crept up to 64 by the afternoon. Needless to say, for November in Michigan, it was odd. I took advantage of the balmy conditions and walked to and from my yoga class after work (2 miles round trip). Now, however, I can hear rain pattering on the window next to me and the wind blowing up the driveway. The cold front is moving through. Tomorrow's high will barely reach the low 40s. 

That's the Midwest for you! Summer one day and winter the next.

Weight: holding steady at 181. No loss, but no gain, either, and that's a good thing, especially after a weekend with the family.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby Steps

Today's birthday suit weight: 181.4.

It's not much, but it's a start.

I visited my long-dormant Daily Plate account, which has now partnered with Livestrong.com. I installed the app on my iPhone. I've resumed tracking everything I eat. I know this is the best way to hold myself accountable for my caloric consumption.

One day at a time. One pound at a time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Backsliding into November

In hashing, "backsliding" is when you fail to show up to a hash for an extended period of time. In my hash one can expect to flirt with backsliderdom after four consecutive no-shows on Sunday afternoons. I am happy to say that in the year and a half I have been hashing I have never been slapped with a down-down1 for backsliding.

The same cannot be said of my weight loss. When it comes to that, I am backsliding. Badly.

This is difficult for me to admit, but laying it out here will make me accountable. I went to the doctor on Monday morning and SOP there is to hop on a scale before anything else happens. The resulting number was one I have not seen since early 2007. I knew it was going to be bad, but I was not prepared for just how bad.

Three and a half years. Three and a half years of weight loss essentially down the drain. I wanted to cry.

182. That's what it said. 182. One hundred and eighty two pounds. There. I said it. Do you know how fucking crushed I feel at writing that number? (On the bright side, this is still 40 pounds less than I was at my heaviest.)

Now I know why my pace has been falling into the basement. I'm carting around 25 pounds (that's one economy-sized box of cat litter) more than I was when I was training for Cleveland and New York in 2009.

I can point fingers every which way in an attempt to lay the blame for this debacle (injury! nasty weather! beer!) but in the end, all the fingers point directly at me. It's my fault. I became lenient with my diet and I wasn't exercising enough. I let things slide. Backslide.

A few rays of hope, though: one, I've been through this before and I know what I have to do to reverse this unfortunate trend. Two, the last time I weighed this much I was in the nascent stages of Phase II of my running career and thought that anything over four miles was impossibly far.

Last Saturday I ran 15.5 miles and felt fresh as a daisy throughout. Yeah, I went slo-o-o-o-w-ly (average pace was 11:06, but that includes a fair bit of walking), but I ran fifteen miles at once. And that's while weighing 180 pounds.

It's time to dust off my Weight Watchers cookbooks and start doing weekly meal plans again. That worked wonders the first time around. Having ingredients on hand for five or six preplanned meals does tend to thwart the temptation to eat poorly. The rest of it is willpower and determination.

Additionally, I have kicked what's left of my training for Thunder Road into high gear. Fifteen miles last weekend will segue into 20 this coming weekend (to be run on the Towpath Trail through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, one of my favorite places to do 20-milers) and I'm back to doing all of my midweek runs, including my Thursday runs with my peeps at the Running Fit store. The aggravation and frustration of August and September have receded and I am happy to report that my hamstring has ceased to be an issue. That is not to say I will be sprinting through the closing meters of any Beer Miles (or anything, for that matter) anytime soon.

One little bit at a time. I can't think "I have to lose 25 POUNDS?" or I will be defeated before I even begin. My first task is to just get below 180 again. Three pounds.

On a lighter note, the last weekend of October was an eventful one. Here are some pictures. Let me show you them.

 This was during my 12-mile saunter2 around Ft. Wayne, Indiana, with the Engineer on October 30. We found a bowling ball in the middle of a soccer field. This is the most incongruous object I've ever seen on a run. After we finally got back to the car we visited the Trion Tavern in New Haven for some well-earned brews.

The Redhead and I FINALLY run a race together! This was the Run Thru Hell on Halloween. We are rocking some awesome Salvation Army-supplied Scooby Doo-inspired costumes. For the record it was about 32 degrees and I was freezing, but not as freezing as poor Redhead who is used to Florida temperatures and was wearing a sleeveless dress.

Spike as a socially awkward parental-basement-dwelling World of Warcraft player. He stayed in character the whole morning. The persona was inspired by "the greatest shirt in the world." His mom told him he had to get out and do something physical with people IRL. So he did. He also met an awesome girl who doesn't care about the weird satiny yellow shorts and crazy T-shirt and glasses wrapped with tape3. Oh, he also set a new 10K personal best. Not bad for a guy who hasn't seen sunlight in about two weeks.

The sign kind of says it all, doesn't it? For more riffs on the "Pure Michigan" tourism ad campaign, go here. You might not get it if you don't live in Michigan, but they're still funny. I laughed the hardest at "Royal Oak," "Downriver," and "U of M Football."

After all the excitement, what better way to relax than with a four-pack of Dark Horse Brewing's Scotty Karate Scotch Ale while I dole out candy to 200+ ungrateful brats?

And there went October. I have a little more than four weeks before Thunder Road...onward!

1: A "down-down" is when one is made to chug a small amount of beer as punishment for an infraction real or imagined. I have done many, many down-downs.
2: It took three hours, but in my defense, there was awesome fossiliferous limestone used as a building material that I had to look at and get all carbonate sedimentologically nostalgic about.
3: By the way that chick went home with him. Daphne, what a ho. Velma would never do that.