Friday, November 13, 2009

2 in 2

Two marathons in two weeks and I'm feeling great! The Marine Corps Marathon was planned for a while but I decided a little later in the year to add the Rockhead Trail Marathon if my legs were adjusting nicely to running sans orthotics. Well, things improved quite well and I gave it a shot. Some minor cramping is all that the legs incurred.

Marine Corps went great. It was a litle slow and had a different feel, considering 32,000 runners, but I really enjoyed the run. The weather warmed up a bit more than I anticipated which probably dehydrated me a bit more than otherwise. So, caught in a herd and the heat, I just decide to have fun, take in the sights, and chat up a few people. Seeing family on the course just made it that much better. Thanks for all of the love & support! You made it a great week in DC! Thanks also to everyone who donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Rockhead Trail Marathon....what a blast! ( Run in Waterford, MI, this was the innaugural year of the event. The course was challenging with many hills, many more rocks, some switchbacks, a water crossing, and some nice mud added in for good measure. The directors need to be commended for putting on a great first shot at this event. A few tweaks on aid stations and course markings and they're really going to have this one dialed in. A field of 50 split the full and half marathon distances. The legs held up well until mile 18 when I somehow caught a boulder (ok, maybe not that big) that was under a pile of leaves and did a faceplant into the trail. Luckily my handheld water bottle took the brunt of the fall. Unfortunately, my calves cramped during this moment and never released for the duration. I was not about to DNF this thing, so there's only one way home.....left foot, right foot, repeat! I ended up finishing 9th of 21, so I'm not complaining. I met new people, found a new event & trail system, and had a great day. What beautfil autumn weather!

Now it's time to work on stabilizers a bit more during the winter. Plyo and balance exercises to further strengthen the ankles. Not ruling out the possibility of some fun winter runs. We'll just have to see!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ice Age Trail - Kettle Moraine

I had the chance a few weeks ago to run a portion of the Ice Age Trail in Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit. The weather was cool and partially cloudy when I started. Perfect, I thought, for a nice trail run.

Knowing tick season was in full swing, I layered on the precautionary DEET, wore long sleeves and hat, and headed out. The first mile and a half was smooth and really enjoyable. Unfortunately, the humidity rose, the sun appeared bringing on a lot of heat, and a huge infestation of bugs decided to feast on my face and neck. I know it's a forest and am no stranger to bugs, but this was crazy insane! It got bad enough that I was constantly blinking my eyes, behind full sunglasses, to keep them from entering my eyeballs. Moving faster didn't deter the suckers as they found a way to repeatedly feast on the back of my neck when swatted away from my eyes and the front! Luckily, speed was on my side and I was able to break into open fields and enjoy not only the sun but some nice flowers along the way.

As I was doing an out and back route, I had to once again return to bugtown at my 10 mile turnaround. Seems as though sweat only encourages the bugs more! This time I was prepared - I put my hat on backwards so the bill (lowered) protected the back of my neck, put my head down, and made an all-out assault. Yeah...well...that was fun. The bugs found that my forehead was equally as tasty as the parts they previously sampled. The result was my neck and head looking as lumpy as the Toxic Avenger.

So, what have I learned? To run this trail in the early morning! Somehow the noon day sun just brought them out in mass quantities! Also, I think running it in spring or late fall might be a better option.

Am I disappointed with Kettle Moraine? Hell no! It was my own decision to be there and it IS a forest after all. The trail was absolutely awesome and I'd love to run a marathon or ultra up there in the future. I just need to plan better.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Answer? Maybe...

So, for the past 6 months (+/-), I've been fighting a nasty IBT/piriformis issue with marginal results in improvement. New shoes, foam roller, stretching, massage, name it, I've been trying it, including reducing my running. Nothing has seemed to really remedy the issue. Frustrated, I looked back into my past before the issue flared up to see what has changed. Surprisingly, the answer may be that I put orthotics in my shoes. Originally, orthotics were recommended because I had a constant issue with ankle sprains and was told that I significantly overpronate. While the orthotics are supposed to help remedy such issues, it only works if the fit is correct. In my case, I've been experiencing discomfort since obtaining the orthotics, even after a refit. So, I decided to get back to where I originally started - no orthotics. Low and behold, I'm seeing a marked improvement in my ITB and piriformis. Do I think this is the solution? Maybe, maybe not. I'm not sold on the whole "barefoot runner" concept, but know that I ran on these legs for many years without stability shoes, orthotics, etc., so it makes some sense. Maybe I just need to keep getting refit until they work for me. Not sure, but the experiment is benefiting me at present. I'm finally able to increase my mileage and get training in for MCM and a few other Fall races, so I'm sticking with what works for now. Will re-evaluate things later this year.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Strong Survive

Saw this commercial recently on Vs. I believe it originally aired during the Tour de France. What an awesome message!

Game on, friends!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Focus on the here and now...

"Look to this day, for yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope." - Sanskrit

With all of the stresses of life, it's good to remember that we cannot change the past nor predict the future. The only thing we can affect is the moment in which we are currently living. If we follow this mindset, personal peace, happiness, and hope will be the result. This certainly rings true with me in dealing with my current piriformis/ITB issues. Concerns of family, work, the economy, etc. can be a mental weight that prevents me from stretching, icing, and doing all that is necessary to take care of myself. By letting go of that which I cannot immediately address, the mind is able to focus of that which is present. Taking care of yourself and living in the moment, in turn, opens the door to freely address the other issues of life as they move from the periphery to become front and center. One thing at a time, one day at a time...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wish You Were Here...

The past 3 weeks have been hell. I went back home to visit my dad for what was anticipated to be a quick surgery to repair a collapsed lung and instead ended up at his funeral. Not that his health was great (emphysema, colon cancer), but you don't anticipate the end when the operating doctor seems optimistic. Thankfully, the surgery was scrubbed and we had a little time to be with him before he passed though he spent much of that time sedated on morphine. Cruelly, one of the best lessons I've learned from my father is to live the opposite of his lifestyle - eat well, exercise, sleep, and protect my overall health. He was a very kind and loving person who died too young and is greatly missed. I truly wish he was here.

Needless to say, I've been away from running during this time due to long days at the hospital and the subsequent family concerns. If there's a silver lining, maybe it's that I've given my legs a chance to recover so I don't cause undue damage to myself. In more ways than one, I now begin a time of rebuilding.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Just a little patience...

"Patience and fortitude conquer all things." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The leg is slowly but surely doing better. Icing and stretching combined have begun to relax the ITB & piriformis allowing me to run again. I've been slowly building my weekly mileage back up and trying not to get over zealous (something I'm definitely not accustomed to).

This past Saturday, I joined in a group run with the Fox River Trail Runners and their fall marathon training group. Though I somewhat drop in & out of the group runs (due to weekend travel obligations), I really enjoy the people in the group and these runs. Running with others is a good way to regulate your pace which is exactly what I need right now. Saturday's run was at the Great Western Trail.
(Photo courtesy of:
The Great Western is a rails to trails conversion from the former Chicago Great Western Railway and runs approximately 30 miles in total. It is a combination of dirt, crushed limestone, and asphalt lengths and is relatively flat. Although it parallels a highway, the trail is rural enough to let you escape the noise & traffic and be alone in your thoughts if you choose. We logged 12 miles and I only felt mild fatigue in the leg within the last 1/2 mile or so. Not too shabby. It's just a matter of time, moderation, & patience and things should start getting back closer to normal.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thought of the Day

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Mohandas Gandhi

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Went through trigger point injections yesterday to relax the piriformis and let it heal. Not exactly the most comfortable therapy I've ever had, but it wasn't as bad as I thought either. Ran a couple miles pain free once numbed up and the doctor determined we hit on the source of the problems. Will now incorporate more stretches and strengthening exercises into my daily routine. I'm definitely glad to not have a stress fracture though and can now begin getting back on the trails!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thought of the Day

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. Either way, there is no benefit in worrying whatsoever. - Dalai Lama


Results are back from the MRI and, thankfully, they show no signs of a stress fracture. There is potentially a minor tear of the cartiledge. The thought now is to go after the piriformis by injecting it into paralysis and then running on it to analyze the level of discomfort. If the discomfort is gone, that is the main issue and we'll hopefully have reduced the spasm via injection to allow it to begin healing. PT should then stretch and strengthen it to avoid a recurrence. Testing on Tuesday. Until then, no trail or road running and plyo is definitely out. Could be worse... At least I can cycle and swim!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Piriformis Stretches

So, I was laying in the MRI tube yesterday wondering about various stretches to help rid me of piriformis syndrome (if in fact I do not have a femural stress fracture) when it dawned on me that I had yet to check online. A quick Google search revealed a YouTube link to a guy demonstrating the exact stretches I was looking for. While I would likely have found these in my various books, it was awesome to find a quick video demonstration. Check it out: I've done these both yesterday and today and am seeing some great results in reduction of both pain and tightness. Although this should never serve as a substitute for an examination by a medical professional, a little self-help can go a long way to assist in recovery.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thought of the Day

Make every attempt to give 100% at all times in whatever it is you are doing. Don't cheat yourself or others by doing less. You might be tired and think "I'll make up for it tomorrow and give 120%", but the problem here is that 100% is the most anyone can do. Therefore, you can never play catch-up and overcome the deficit. Put it all on the line everyday and nobody can ever say you didn't give your best effort.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thought of the Day

"There is a definite relationship between cause and effect: those actions not committed will never produce an effect. However, those actions once committed will never lose their potentiality."
- Dalai Lama

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Catching Up

A monthly synopsis of what's been going on in my absence:
- Dec. '08: Successfully ran the Death Valley Marathon. Parted from my hydration plan and had to push fuel & fluids much more than anticipated late in the race. Good learning experience and really a great time! Met Tammy Massie (, Tim Englund, Lisa Bliss (, David Clark, Yi Shun Lai, and several other really nice people that were great to meet and fun to run with. I'll definitely go back to Death Valley, though maybe for a different race...
- Jan. '09: Made it through the holidays just fine. Lots of snow and sub-zero temps, but I ran fine. YakTrax are my new friend.
- Feb. '09: Wife gave birth to our first child, a baby boy - Morgan! Everyone is doing great! I caught some strange upper respiratory influenza that had me quarrantined for a week while the powedered inhaler did its thing. My suspicion, looking back, is that this might have been the infamous H1N1 flu though I'm not certain. We had family in town regularly over Feb./March to celebrate and help out. Thanks!
- March/April '09: Spending time at home adjusting to being a new dad. Way cool! Increasing my mileage and back in the swing of the running season. Registered for the Marine Corps. Marathon in DC this October. Started experiencing tightness in right leg (hip to knee). Uh oh...
- Present: Doctor's visit and x-rays yesterday. Benched from running until MRI is performed to rule out femoral stress fracture (which is unlikely). Hoping it's just a seized piriformis/IT band issue that will relax with PT. Will keep boosting my cardio with cycling and swimming until I'm cleared to hit the trails again.

Well, that brings things up to speed. Have a great week!

Thought of the Day

"Our state of mind plays a major role in our day-to-day experiences as well as our physical and mental well-being. If a person has a calm and stable mind, this influences his or her attitude and behavior in relation to others. In other words, if someone remains in a peaceful and tranquil state of mind, external surroundings can cause them only a limited disturbance." - Dalai Lama