I Feel Like Almost Half a Man (Ironman, that is)



I have been too busy to write a recap of last weekend’s Half-Ironman Tri in Racine and I’m still too busy (and I’m hardly exaggerating) but I thought I better write a quick note in case anyone is wondering how it went.

Well, the swim was cancelled (reportedly 51 degrees) so I still can’t say I have completed a Half-Ironman (when I signed up for one some twenty years ago, the swim was cancelled that day too) (thanks, Lake Michigan!)

I was disappointed, but what could I do?  They set us off two at a time, the professionals first, and then the rest of us in order of our race numbers and I was 1542 out of 1600 so I spent an hour just watching people take off before I got to go.  My goal for the bike was around 3 hours and I did it in just over (though my GPS had the distance measured at only 55 miles).  The course was flat but it was very windy, so I was happy enough.  Some people flew by me in the first third of the ride but I passed quite a few others on the back half, especially on the uphills and long stretches into the wind.  I was pleased, especially because my longest training ride had been only 45 miles with a 15 minute break at halfway.

My upper shin bone had been bothering me for over a week before the race so most of race week I was limping around pretty good and not even sure I could run.  I iced it aggressively and used half a tube of Arnica gel and thankfully it recovered.  I felt good off the bike and though I didn’t count, I passed hundreds and hundreds of people on the run, which made the 13 miles go by pretty quickly.  I averaged 7:25 per mile, right around where I hoped I might be.  I felt pretty good on the two-loop course except on the two short uphills near the start of each loop.  I didn’t check my splits, just kept looking ahead but my GPS had me at just over 7 minute pace for the first half and then slower for the second.  This makes sense as I slowed to take my gels, stopped and walk to drink a few glasses of water, and even ducked into the Port-a-Potty just before ten miles (it was a cool day, great for running, and I obviously had no dehydration issues).  After that stop, I felt good enough to push to the finish but ran out gas and had a rough stretch between 11-12.  But I felt better towards the end and was able to finish strong and enjoy it too.

Recovery week has been okay (though, as I said, I’ve been busy).  I took a couple days off, have done a few runs without much of that shin pain, and survived my nephew’s Bachelor Party on Saturday, a day that started with paintball in the woods at 9 a.m. and ended in a downtown bar at 2 a.m. (Last Uncle Standing!).

All right, got to go.  Things to do, places to go, people to see…..



Like a Rolling Stone…..

stones 60'sThere’s no denying the greatness of the Rolling Stones, but honestly, I rarely get much enjoyment from their songs anymore. It’s like I’ve heard them all so many times, I’ve got to be in the right mood to really appreciate one. They are touring again this summer and lots of people are excited about the opportunity to see them. I’ll pass on that, but I am excited about their tour for another reason–the very fact that they are still around. I mean, these guys are old, right? I saw them once, in 1989, and my friend and I were thinking, we’ve got to see them before it’s too late. That was over 25 years ago! How have they kept it up? Well, rheumatologists and geriatricians have been wondering the same thing. One thing they’ve learned is that they all do it differently. There’s no one way, though being passionate about and engaged with something seems to be key. But when it comes to the caretaking of the body, Mick Jagger is doing it best. They say he covers about 12 miles on stage during every stadium show and to be in shape for this his fitness routine consists of 6a00d8341bfb1653ef01a3fcead192970brunning (8-milers and sprints), swimming, kickboxing, yoga, and pilates; pretty impressive for a 70 year old. But why am I writing about the Rolling Stones? Well, could there be better role models for an injured, middle-aged runner trying to keep himself rolling, to nourish him in his times of doubt?

My training has been going well. Last weekend, I swam in the Illinois State Masters swim meet. I swam okay, but not as fast as I’d hoped. Last year’s state meet was my first ever and I’ve been swimming regularly since then so I expected my times would be faster. But while my stroke has improved, which allowed me to do some longer races, I swam about the same pace for the shorter events. The takeaway: just swimming won’t make you a faster swimmer. To do that, you need to do faster workouts. Stating that, it seems so obvious, but I think I just fell into a workout routine and stuck with it, happy to be training consistently. But to improve, to race, that’s another matter. Specificity in training is the key to reaching goals, to getting better. No doubt about it. Lesson learned (again).  I could go on and on telling you how fun the swim meet was how and extraordinary my team is, but I’m going to save that for another time. Though I will tell you we won the meet this year (I say “we” even though I hardly scored any points) and my lovely perfect wife (among many others) swam some amazing races, really impressive!


So my swimming hasn’t improved as much as I’d like, but what about my running?  What about my knee? Well, my brace allowed me to maintain a consistent 3-4 days a week schedule since the fall, but I still had some pain. A month ago, I went back to my doctor to discuss other treatment options. I’d been doing research on two kind of injections:  hyaluronic acid and platelet-rich plasma. He said the hyaluronic acid works for some people, but the treatment is expensive. The plasma is still only in the experimental stages. When I made the appointment, I was hoping he’d do something that day, but I also wanted him to simply keep me in mind, view me as a long term project, so that when a new treatment comes out, he’ll think of me first, and get me back on the path of running with no cortisone-injection-imgpain at all. In the meantime, he suggested I try a shot of cortisone, a strong anti-inflammatory. Do it! I said. My previous doc had said it wasn’t a good idea, that one of the side effects of this could be cartilage damage, but my new guy said even with 2 or 3 doses a year, he didn’t think it would have much effect. My old doc, even though I’ve no reason to believe he didn’t do a good job on the surgery, always just told me to live with the pain. Just don’t run and live with the pain.  The very words I didn’t want to hear.  I hold no ill will, no sense in that, but I sure wish I would’ve found my new doc sooner.

The response to the cortisone has pretty been good. It took some time to take effect, and I’ve also upped my daily dosage of tumeric (being a great anti-inflammatory is one of its many reported benefits) to 4 capsules a day, but sometimes I can walk up steps now with 558270_467414966639298_122021088_n-1no pain, and even when that hurts, the pain is duller than before, not as sharp or hot. It feels now more like just weakness in the knee, not my bones scraping against each other. So while it is not perfect, it is improvement, and I’ve been getting in better shape too. All along the long road back, I’ve been able to run some decent times for short repetitions on the track. My problem has been my pace on longer runs. In November, I struggled a few times to maintain 8 minutes a mile pace. That’s slow for me, and those were really hard runs! But I’ve done some workouts in the last few weeks that give me reason to be optimistic. A few weeks ago, I ran 3 miles in 21:03.  I had to work pretty hard the second half of the out-and-back course, especially the last half mile, trying to break 21 minutes, but into the wind I just missed. Still, that’s progress.

Shortly after that, I ran my good, old 6 mile route from home and averaged 7:15 per mile. This took a good effort as well, but I felt in control and held up well towards the end. On the one hand, as I was turning the corner for the home stretch a few blocks from my house and I could see I was going to complete the run in about 44 minutes (it’s actually a 6.1 mile route) I was pretty happy. Woohoo! Progress! But another part of me was looking at my watch and thinking, not that long ago, I would be done with this run already. Not only would I have been done already, I would have felt lots better along the way. I looked up at the stretch of road in front of me and knew my old self, before my injury, would have already turned the corner in the distance and be back in the driveway catching his breath.

Obviously, I want to regain that fitness, and that feeling I used to have when running. But, I’ve realized I’m satisfied where I am. It’s like when the Stones sang:a-roll

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

I used to think they were singing about settling for less, being satisfied with what one has, while knowing it could be better. But what I’ve learned is that what we want is far less important than what we need. Wants are temporary, flimsy, fleeting, while needs are essential, coming from the core, from our hearts.  Needs are far more important, and if our needs are met, anything is possible.  So sure, while I still have wants–to run more, and faster, and feel better doing these things—I’m satisfied. I’m getting what I need.

All right, for hardcore readers only, my last seven weeks of training:

Feb 22-March 1
M: 15 minutes rowing then 30 minute core workout, 45 minutes swim workout (1.5)
T: easy 30 minute spin then 25 box jumps, tri club swim workout (1.5)
W: 4 miles indoor including 2 ½ warmup then 6 400’s (av 84) (felt okay) (0.75)
R: sick!
F: still sick but ran 4 miles, good effort, felt okay, new shoes (Hoka One One) (0.5)
S: still sick but swam 1650 time trial in 27:17 (tough after 500, and pretty slow!)
S: sick!

SWIM: 3x/2.25
BIKE: 1x/0.5
WEIGHTS: 1x/0.5
CARDIO: 3x/1.5
RUN: 8 miles
TOTAL TIME: 4.75 hours

March 2-8
M: 3 mile run, still feeling sick but ran at good effort (untimed), knee didn’t hurt on run, and just a little bit afterwards (0.5)
T: 30 minute core workout, swim practice with Tri team (some fast 25’s) (1.5)
W: 30 minute spin on trainer, 4 miles indoor including 1 wu in 7:06, 8 300’s in 57 average, 1 mile in 7:20, good workout, no knee pain during run (1.25)
R: 45 minute pool workout including 25 minutes drills and 20 minutes aqua jog, outside of knee a little achy at night (0.75)
F: 30 minute swim, short wu, 50’s in 38-40 with equal rest, 500 hard (7:50), felt okay, 15 minutes recumbent/15 minutes core (1.0)
S: 5 miles, good effort (HR av 158), tried to run with easy arms (0.75), knee fine during run but hurt afterwards (on the outside), maybe brace is too tight and that is causing the pain?
S: swim meet: 50 in 32, 200 in 2:43, 100 in 1:13, pretty slow times, need to do faster workouts, bike ride (outdoors) 45 minutes (1.5)

SWIM: 4x/3.0
BIKE: 3x/1.5
WEIGHTS: 2x/0.75
CARDIO: 3x/2.0
RUN: 12 miles
TOTAL TIME: 7.25 hours

March 9-15
M: 4 mile run, felt okay once I got going, knee fine (0.5)
T: Tri club swim workout, hard stretch of 5 100’s, 5 75’s, 5 50’s, 5 25’s, good workout (1.0)
W: continuous swim of 200 swim, 25 kick (8 times for 1800 yards) (almost 37 minutes), easy 30 minutes spin on trainer, also plyo and drills with track team (1.0)
R: 6 mile route in 45:20 (7:25), good effort, cool and windy, outside of knee achy afterwards, HR av 158 (0.75)
F: 1 hour swim, long course, 20 min warmup, then 20 min drills and kicking, then alternated fast 50’s with aqua jogging (1.0)
S: 90 minute bike ride on lakefront trail (1.5)
S: Swim Meet: 100 in 1:11, 200 in 2:40, a little faster than last week (1.0)

SWIM: 3x/3.0
BIKE: 1x/1.5
CARDIO: 2x/1.25
RUN: 11 miles
TOTAL TIME: 6.75 hours

March 16-22
M: 2 mile warmup then 3 mile tempo in 21:03, second half into wind and pretty tough! HR av 160, core workout at home, easy 45 minute bike ride (1.75)
T: 45 minute spin class at noon, Tri club swim workout 25 100’s on 1:45, maintained good rhythm, felt pretty good (1.75)
W: Met with Dr. J—got cortisone shot, 45 minute Nordictrak (0.75)
R: 4500 yard swim including 5 200’s av 3:04, some fast 50’s, lots of drills and kicking (1.75)
F: 6 mile route in 44:18 (7:15 pace), HR av 158, worked hard, core workout (1.25)
S: no workout—track meet all day
S: long walk, then 2 miles of strides/drills on soccer field, 20 box jumps on wall (0.5), feeling some knee pain still at certain angles (not when running), but not as bad as before cortisone

SWIM: 2x/2.75
BIKE: 2x/1.5
WEIGHTS: 2x/0.75
CARDIO: 4x/2.75
RUN: 13 miles
TOTAL TIME: 7.75 hours

March 23-29
M: 15 minutes recumbent then 30 minute core workout, swim workout including 10 100’s on 2 min in 1:24/1:25, last one in 1:23, felt good (1.25)
T: track workout in the morning, mile of strides to warm up, then descending ladder: 6:27, 4:43, 2:57, 81, 38, 35, good workout, no knee pain (0.75)
W: 30 minutes on recumbent then 30 minutes core workout, 30 minute swim (all drills), knee hurt a little (1.5)
R: 30 minute run, felt heavy and slow! (but knee good) (0.5)
F: swim workout, wu, 5 200’s in 3:00, 3:04, 3:03, 3:01, 2:57, (av 3:01) also 10 50’s + drills (1.0)
S: 6 mile run along lakefront in Chicago, soft path, felt pretty good, core workout after (1.0)
S: Swim meet, 1650 in 25:36 (much faster than time trial/1:33 average per 100), felt strong (0.75)

SWIM: 4x/2.75
BIKE: 2x/0.75
WEIGHTS: 3x/1.25
CARDIO: 3x/2.0
RUN: 14 miles
TOTAL TIME: 6.75 hours

March 30-April 5
M: 4 miles on track, felt sluggish (0.5)
T: 30 minutes recumbent bike, 30 minutes swim, easy + drills + kicking (1.0)
W: swim workout, tried to do some fast stuff, 5 75’s in 1:01 av, 10 25’s in 20, a couple 250’s at 1650 pace, 5 100’s in 1:26/1:27, foot and leg started to cramp (1.0)
R: 5 miles total including 4 doctor’s park and 4 beach drive hills (0.75)
F: 30 minute core/weight workout (0.5)
S: 6 mile run including 8 easy strides (0.75)
S: 30 minute on recumbent bike (0.5)

SWIM: 2x/1.5
BIKE: 2x/1.0
WEIGHTS: 1x/0.5
CARDIO: 3x/2.0
RUN: 15 miles
TOTAL TIME: 5.0 hours

April 6-12
M: 3 mile run then strides and plyometrics, 30 minute swim including 500 in 7:50, drills, 10 50’s in control (44-45) (1.0)
T: day off, arms tired, elbow sore, tapering for swim meet (0)
W: track workout, 1 warmup (all strides), 6 800’s in 3:14, 3:11, 3:09, 3:07, 3:04, 3:00, tried to run with moderate effort, concentrating on good form, felt smooth but had to work on the last one, easy swim 15 minutes (1.0)
R: day off to rest up for State Swim meet
F: swim meet, 1650 in 25:44, felt strong (0.75)
S: swim meet, 100 in 1:10, 500 in 7:20, felt good on both, could’ve gone a little harder in the 500 (1.0)
S: swim meet, 200 in 2:39, felt slow (arms tired) (0.75)

SWIM: 5x/3.25
CARDIO: 2x/1.25
RUN: 8 miles
TOTAL TIME: 4.5 hours

A thousand apologies…

…for leaving you in suspense by not writing sooner about my triumphant return from knee surgery (ha!), but for the last few months I’ve been in a sort of limbo, with no sense of up or down, forward or back. I’ve been working on getting better, but haven’t been able to tell if I was making progress, regressing, or simply fading away. As a result, I just didn’t know what to say. I’ve said a lot, of course, to myself, to my knee, but most of that was not worth sharing. But it’s not all bad news, as you might expect, and now I’ve even got some good news, but I’m going to try to bring you up to date before I get to that.

As you may recall, after getting on a limited, but predictable running schedule, pain forced me to stop in March. I got an x-ray and my doc it was inflammation. So I didn’t run, took every anti-inflammatory I could find, went for acupuncture, iced religiously, et cetera. The pain decreased, but didn’t go away. I had good days and bad moments—one little misstep and be wincing in pain. I wanted to resume running, but not to just to have to stop, or hurt myself worse. I needed to know what was happening in there, so got an MRI. I expected either a re-torn meniscus (the little bit that is left in there) or signs the cartilage had not grown properly after the microfracture. I wondered if I needed surgery again, if there was some other fix, or if I was really done running.

When I went in to get the results, I braced myself for the news, telling myself no matter how bad it was, I could overcome it. But the doctor said everything looked pretty good—not perfect, of course, there’s bone wear and tear, not a lot of meniscus left, and the MCL showed signs of a strain, but there was no “injury” and the really good news was that there was new cartilage where the microfracture was performed (an MRI is the only way to find this out), so from his perspective, there was nothing to do, besides “take it easy.”

Of course, I knew just what he meant by “take it easy.” He meant I could start running again. I left the doctor’s office with a feeling of buoyancy, like I was about to go on vacation. And in fact, my lovely perfect wife and I were meeting friends in Texas for a long 4th of July weekend and I held on to this happy, floating feeling for the next two days—during which I flew to San Antonio, drove to the Gulf, stayed up late drinking beers, woke up too early and a bit hungover to go fishing, got a little seasick (and didn’t catch a thing), then after a couple hours of recovery on the couch, decided it was time to try to run again. By this time it was high noon and 93 Texas degrees outside, the road I was going to run on offered no shade and only a slight (hot breeze). Finally, the inhaler I’d packed (I’ve had exercise-induced asthma for the last four years) was empty, which vacationrentalmeans I essentially had a narrow throat through which to gulp air. Not an ideal lead up to a run, but I couldn’t wait.

On the first stretch of road I felt clumsy and awkward, almost as if my body had forgotten how to run (again!). And I could only keep moving for about 3 minutes before I was gasping for breath. But my knee didn’t hurt. My leg felt weak, I could feel myself limping a bit, but there was no pain. Still, for the rest of the run all I could muster was with 3 or 4 minutes of running at a stretch followed by walking breaks. I told myself the breaks were good for my knee, to “take it easy” on it, make sure I wasn’t hurting myself. But there was no way I could’ve done a continuous run. This is what it feels like to non-runners, I thought, so hard, so impossible to keep moving. Still, for short stretches I was able to dial in to something of a rhythm, the great feeling of running I love, and so I huffed and puffed and fought my way through 45 minutes. When I got back to the house, I had that great post-run feeling: calm and agreeable and accomplished with the sense that everything in the world was in order. I iced my knee and it seemed no worse for the wear. Let the comeback begin again! I thought.

And for the rest of the summer I did slowly get myself back in shape, at least the kind of shape that let me run 2-3 times a week, all short workouts, sometimes strides on the  soccer field by my house, other times going to the track, building up to 3 mile runs, or mixing it up with (slow) speed workouts. My goal was to be able to do the Waupaca Area Triathlon in August with my son: ½ mile swim, 20 mile bike, 5K run. I had no delusions of running quickly and just wanted my knee to hold up for the full distance. If I had to walk, I told myself, I’d walk. If I had to drop out, I’d drop out. But on race day my knee felt pretty good and I had a solid swim (my son beat me by a minute or so) and bike (I passed him early on the ride and gained a three minute gap). But what would happen on pacman_wallpaper_by_meskarune-d4a8m3kthe run? Well, I could feel myself limping a bit at the start, but my form smoothed out the longer I ran, gobbling up slower runners like Pac-Man, and I was able to not only run the 5K nonstop, but at 7:10 pace to hold off my son by about a minute (honestly, I was kind of hoping that I’d run well but he’d come flying by me anyway). Though a far cry from what I could’ve done a few years ago, I told myself it was not bad considering everything. And it was great, of course, to do a race with him.


I followed this up with a couple more good runs, including a wonderful Saturday 5 1/2 miler on the lakefront trail in Chicago from Ohio Street Beach to Fullerton and back at under 7 minute pace (even though I like to run alone, sometimes it’s fun to be with all the runners and bikers on the path, catching as many as I can). That day I really felt like myself again, found a fast rhythm right away and was able to maintain it. And my knee didn’t hurt lakefront trailafterwards, I mean, besides the pain I still always felt walking up steps, so I thought I was back on track again, ready for a fall of running. I wasn’t planning to do any races, just 2-3 runs a week, maybe trying to get in shape to run a mile under 6 minutes, or building up to a 3 mile time trial on the track before it got too cold. Fall is the best time of year to run and I just didn’t want to miss out. I was already planning to back off for the winter, maybe not running at all, but swimming and skiing and spending time in the weight room, strengthening my legs to hopefully feel really good in the spring, when I could get a little more serious.

But four days after that I tried again in the morning before class, and it hurt, enough for me to stop. But then I went to my son’s cross country meet that afternoon and ran a least a mile around the race course, cheering him and his teammates on, and felt no pain. Maybe cc race greenfield parkit just hadn’t loosened up in the morning, I thought. I put it out of my mind and five days later, on a perfect September evening, I went to the track. I was feeling full of energy, full of running, as they say, and my plan was to warm up then see how fast I could run 3 miles. But after my warmup, which usually loosens up my knee, I couldn’t make it 50 meters without stopping. And it wasn’t the kind of pain where I said to myself, Hmm, this kind of hurts, maybe I should stop. It was the kind of pain where I’d stopped and was standing there halfway down the straightway on the track, wincing and swearing almost before I even knew what had happened.

Rightfully (I told myself) depressed, I spent the rest of my night online, desperate for answers. I found lots of information but couldn’t figure anything out. That’s when I decided I needed to see a new doctor, a specialist, a sports medicine orthopedic. I’d seen two orthopedics since my surgery and their advice was always to just not run, to just accept it. Besides the fact that it didn’t seem fair (of course I knew that didn’t matter–life’s not fair), it also seemed premature, too simple. There had to be more to explore: first of all, why was it still hurting? Inflammation, but what was inflamed? I mean, if I didn’t know that, how could I know what might make it better? And I knew there were other treatment options: cortisone, hyaluronic acid injections, et cetera. None were guaranteed to work, but they might work, so why not try?

After a bit of research on sports medicine orthopedics in the area, I found Dr. J, whose  focus seemed to be getting athletes back on track. He studied under Dr. James Andrews, a famous surgeon who has worked on scores of pro athletes including Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Brett Favre. He’ll figure this out, I thought, and made an appointment.  As I waited the few days for it I did my best not to think about it, the fact that my optimism was probably foolish, borne out of desperation. He’s going to say the same thing, I thought to myself, as I walked into the office.  Don’t run.  It’s so simple. What would I do then? Would I find another doctor? Really give it up? I didn’t know.

In the examination room Dr. J pushed and pulled my leg in all sorts of directions and asked me: does this hurt, or this? Ironically, my knee was having a very good day and not much hurt. “But sometimes it really hurts,” I told him and tried to describe the long story of my knee without overwhelming him with information. But between what he gleaned from these tests and the MRI he told me he thinks the pain is rather easily explained. The bottom of my femur bone (rounded) is sometimes making contact, or coming close to it, with the top of my shin bone (flat), and bones, though our bodies are full of them, aren’t made to meet, not without cartilage between them. If they do meet, the pain is extreme. He said he thinks the two meniscus surgeries I had is the problem—there’s just not enough meniscus left to serve as a cushion between the bones and at certain angles (like when walking up steps or sometimes when running) the bones touch and give me that big shockwave of pain.  What I’m left with is a bruised femur bone that won’t get better because it keeps getting re-aggravated. He said in general the knee looks pretty good besides that, and said that the cartilage regrowth from the microfracture looks good too. Then he gave me the really good news: there are lots of ways to fix this problem! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. While my other docs said again and again: it is what it is and there’s nothing else we can do, he was saying: oh, there’s lots of stuff we can do, lots of solutions.

screen_shot_2012-11-13_at_7.17.01_am_1The easiest, and the one I’ll try first, is a custom fitted knee brace that will be designed to slightly shift the alignment of my knee so the impact when I run will go more to the outside, where I do have meniscus to serve as a shock absorber. He said injections may be the second choice if the brace doesn’t work. But even if that fails, he said he could do a meniscus transplant! This means he would pull out my puny damaged meniscus and put in a full replacement (from a donor). It’s kind of funny, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last two years lusting after people’s knee joints, thinking to myself, if I had your knees, I’d be running right now! And that might actually happen. But that wouldn’t be for a while, after we’ve exhausted other, less involved solutions. But if the brace and the injections and the other solutions don’t work, I won’t hesitate to go through with it. It’ll mean another long recovery, 6-9 months, but I’ll do it gladly if that’s what it takes, if it really can be the light at the end of the tunnel.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself. Dr. J thinks the brace has a good chance of working. And now this guy, even though I’ve only met him once, has quickly moved up on my list of favorite people in the world. Funny how that works, isn’t it? We like people who can give us what we want. And I still want to run. I’ve actually done a couple runs since those two bad ones without incident.  It seems I’m better off running faster than slower as I must land and push off differently. Dr. J suggested I get my running gait analyzed as this is probably related to my knees failing me. I’ll do this, but not until after I get the brace, because I know now I’m favoring my right leg so the test would be kind of pointless. And I’m pretty sure I know what the problem is: though I’ve always had pretty good running form, I think I’m slightly knock kneed, especially when I get tired, and this puts a lot of stress on the insides of my knees, which is where all my problems are.  I think it’s a slight misalignment, but over the course of thousands of miles, well, things add up.  Apparently, this motion is typically caused by weak hips and though I’ve been working on those, I’m going to make it Priority #1 going forward. I also think just being more aware of it will help. Of course, the damage in my left knee is already done, but this will help me adjust to running with the brace and hopefully preserve my other knee for the long haul.

Speaking of long hauls, if you are still reading, you are probably thinking, enough about the knee, how is everything else going? I’m happy to report it’s all good: my lovely, perfect wife I both swam Big Shoulders, a swim race last weekend at Ohio Street Beach in Lake Michigan. I did 2.5K and she did the 5K (and fast!). The water temps were in the low 60’s and the water was moving (as you can see), not great conditions for a skinny runner trying to swim. Though I’d done the majority big shoulders waterof my lake swimming with a wetsuit. my lovely perfect wife was going without, and my friend I’d talked into doing the 2.5K with me was going without, and though I thought I could beat him if I wore the wetsuit, and that he’d probably beat me if i didn’t, I plunged into the icy drink in my just my swimsuit and hoped for the best (you should know by now I believe in a fair fight).  The first half wasn’t bad, but after that, I could feel myself getting colder and colder.  By time I made it to the second buoy, two-thirds through the race, I was shivering and the swells were bigger than any I’d ever swum in.  I forgot all about racing and  just wanted to finish,  When I finally hit land again, I was just happy to be done, and satisfied, as this was something I wouldn’t have even considered a couple years ago.  Still, I was really disappointed with my slow time (4 minutes behind my friend) and back of the pack finish. On the beach as I waited for my teeth to stop chattering (thirty minutes or so) I missed running, being in racing shape, because then if there was a running race of a thousand people, I’d finish near the front, not the rear. Is it just vanity that makes me want to run? I suppose that’s part of it.  I mean, the experience of doing something, of taking on a challenge is most important, but there is a different kind of satisfaction that comes from being fast, being good at something. I guess I miss that.

In other news, Son #1frat photo
is back off to college at
Ole Miss. According to the
few reports I get from
the fraternity house,
all is going well.

Son #2 trained like a champ all summer and his cross country season is off to a great start. He’s cc teamalready dropped 40 seconds off his PR for 5K down to 17:08 (that’s a huge jump already) and has plenty of races to go. It’s good to see him running fast and proving to himself that hard work does pay off.

So, again I apologize for being absent these last few months. Rest assured, I was thinking about you, but really, you wouldn’t have wanted to read the posts I started but abandoned over the course of the summer with titles like “Self-loathing as a means of self-improvement,” “Who cares about running, anyway?” “I used to be kind of fast,” “Maybe Lynn is right,” and “Aqua jogging is for losers.” These all seemed reasonable when I was in limbo. But I’m not in limbo anymore—now I’m just waiting. Waiting for my brace, and then waiting for the future–where anything, anything is possible.