Thoughts on an almost lost summer

So, back in May, I found a tick. Went to the doc, got the Lyme Disease prophylaxis, and thought not much of it.

Did my first triathlon in a while at the Mystic Triathlon; not in great shape, but racing felt AWESOME – really brought out the desire to fly, and I thought I was on track for a great summer.

Went for 4 days on the Long Trail in June, and had one of the scouts need to be medevac’d due to vomiting and generally feeling terrible. Turned out, he had Lyme. Trip felt great for me; and was happy, healthy.

Vacation in Stowe was AMAZING as always; possibly the best week of the year by far, though my conditioning didn’t really reflect the effort I’d put in. Not sure why.

Immediately after vacation, I had a work trip to Honolulu. The first couple days I was there, my right knee swelled up, which is odd, because that’s like the only joint in my legs I haven’t had an issue with. But, it felt better when I ran, so I went with it. Plenty of good running laps of the canal, and a rented bike from Island Triathlon & Bike lead to two AWESOME days of riding.

But, I got home, the knee swelled up, and the lethargy I felt was stronger than the usual 6 hour Hawaii jetlag. So, I went in to see the doc, who, given the tick earlier in the year, said we ought to start the antibiotics, and take the test.

The test came back positive for Lyme, so I’ve got that going for me.

The course of Doxycycline seems to be working well; most days my head is clear, my knee doesn’t ACHE, though it is still tender. I went for a (REALLY SHORT) bike ride this morning, and had no lungs, though that might just be neglect.


Thoughts on being injured

Something happened at the end of January. Still not quite sure what happened, but something did. I think it was the shoes – they were some awesome pseudo chukkar boots. I’ve had them for a couple of years, and haven’t had a whole lot of trouble with them. When I had some issues recovering from a torn tendon two years ago, I put some Dr. Scholl’s inserts in them. Which elevate my heels a bunch, I think, even on top of the boot heels.

About a month ago, I went out for some testing, wearing the boots since 1) they look cool, and 2) it was snowy, and boots in snow are the BEST. I spent a whole lot of the day on my feet during the testing. No biggie, but I was noticeably sore when I got to the hotel that night.

The next day, I went for one of my typical out-and-backs from the office. Out felt great – I’ve been better than average after the new year about getting out to run, so was pretty excited that we had a sunny, non-windy, non-freezing day in January. I got to the typical turn-around time, and started heading back to the office. With about a half-mile left to go, something siezed up in my calf – kind of like a little knot. That day, I gutted through it, chugged up the hill, and back to the office.

The rest of the day, it was tough to walk – kind of like a charlie horse right at the base of my calf muscle. Stretched it several times. I went to run the next day, got a mile out, and it siezed up again.

Fastforward a month. I’ve taken two whole weeks between runs (ie, run, waited a week, run, waited a week, run) … I think I’m almost out of the woods.

Travel again this week (San Diego is tough when you’re logging 10 hour days). Got in, woke up early on Tuesday, and chugged out 30 minutes, no problem. About 20 minutes in, I got a little worried, thinking that it was going to sieze, but finished without issue. (For a San Diego run, it was strictly unspectacular – along an access road, in the fog, in the dawn twilight)

Today was the real test. Before I headed to the airport, I laced up the sneakers again, set the iPod, and headed off to actually get some San Diego style run in – Point Loma, through the national cemetary out to Cabrillo Point. Ocean views on both sides, a little bit of roller, no humidity, light breeze … left me wondering why people would live there, avoiding winter and getting soft?

Five minutes in – F#ck. The familiar crimp in the base of the muscle on my right calf. F#ck, F#ck, F#ck, F#ck.

Headed back to the car, though, something new happened – the knot started to unwind, little by little, and after 5 minutes of walking, it felt good enough to take a couple of tenative steps at a jog. And wonders of wonders, the knot worked itself out, and the last 20 minutes were great – not even a hint of hurt.

So, I’m typing this, and mildly hopeful that I’ll be able to run again tomorrow. Part of me says that’s probably not the best idea I’ve ever had – but most of me wants to figure out if I’m actually better, or if this is just temporary.

Chasing Summer

Busy, busy, busy times. Grad school project due tomorrow, clustering happening at work (much like always), and in the thick of activities between Scouting, Church, and the part-time job.

But this afternoon, for a glorious 61 minutes and 33 seconds, it all slipped away, and I chased the sun as it plummeted from the sky far too early in the day.

We’ve been enjoying an outstanding autumn, almost an indian summer, but not quite warm enough. Last night into this morning, though, the weather changed. The wind picked up and blew, and the temperature dropped from the mid-60’s Friday evening into the 30’s this morning.

I think I’m finally getting my mojo back, getting into a regular habit of hitting the road, hitting the pool, and at least a weekly bike ride. Would be great to have more time to ride, but I’ll take what I’ve got.

Anyway, had a virtual meeting with some classmates about a project we’ve got due tomorrow; divvy’d up the remaining work, and headed out to hit the road. Laced ’em up, fired up the Ambit and the iPod, and hit the road. I was a little interested in how it was going to go – not sure when the last time I’d done back-to-back runs was, and not sure when the last time I’d done more than 10 miles in a week back-to-back was.

But, my race at Tarzan Brown was better than last year (shockingly), and that’s given me a little bit of a boost. Plus, my teenage son smoked me, and I’m not really ready to be an old man. It’s a lie to say it was easy today, but it felt good, and I just kept going.

There’s a hill near the house, Boston Post Road approaching Flanders Road from the east, that’s a classic coastal New England bump. Maybe 100′ of elevation total over almost 2 miles, but enough to notice. A couple of years, I decided that I’d stop avoiding the hill and embrace it, and today may have been the first time I’ve really, really loved it. The shadows and tall trees were stretched out, and the sun was plummeting towards the horizon. 6 weeks till the solstice, allegedly, and then the days will inch back towards something approaching reasonable.

I crested the hill, and decided to turn a 5 miler into an hour, kept running down the other side of Flanders Hill, and into the sun. A glorious, glorious patch of sun, a downhill, and a lee from the cold wind. Good legs, good lungs.

It’s a long four months until the end of March when we might see days like this again, but runs like today make it seem like I might get there again.

Holmes Run

Fall is awesome. Let me just start with that. Down in DC for meetings, and dealing with slowly getting back into shape. Stuck in a new hotel out in Alexandria in kind of a residential desert; it’s kind of unusual in that it’s one of the few places around DC without a robust bike/trail infrastructure like right out the door.

But, thanks to the good folks at the desk and the google maps, I was able to map out a run that turned out pretty much awesome. About a mile down the hill from the hotel was Holmes Run Trail. Beautiful mix of paved and unpaved options. The light was stunning.

However, every time I would see the “Holmes Run” sign, instead of reading:

Holmes Run

like the creek, I would read:

Holmes, Run

And start hearing either:


Anyway, it was one of those runs which was absolutely awesome. Happy to go.

Funk is its own reward

After a great start to the summer (Half marathons at Vermont City and Mystic, two weeks backpacking at Philmont), work, life, and beer caught up with me. Weight’s up (but not to pre-summer high, and my Movescount dashboard is that of a slacker:


8 hours. 8 whole hours of logged exercise for an entire month.

Anyway, made it out this morning into the autumn early light. No fog, but low, cold clouds hanging over the trees. Cool, but not enough to have to put on long sleeves.

The run was unspectacular – 9 minute miles on an out-and-back I’ve run more times than I remember – downhill to just before the turn, then a small 20′ kicker at the midpoint, and about 100′ up in the mile and a half or so back to the house.

But it was a run. Which counts. 8 hours, 15 minutes a day … maybe that’s not so bad.

Bonk. Or Whatever

Really? Haven’t posted since March? Well, crap. This winter really, really, really, sucked the life out of me. Let’s see, what have I done since then:

Another YAM Scram and Relay Vermont City Marathon:


The Inaugural Mystic Half Marathon (Yep, that’s my boy, bringing home the age group hardware):

Mystic Half

A little bit of backpacking at Philmont in New Mexico:

Winter that never ends

Riding to get Ice Cream:


Riding because I’m married to the finest woman on the planet (person on the planet, actually)


Riding to fight homelessness:


Drinking some beers:

(Maybe lots of beers)

Anyway, today was the last day of the kids being at YMCA Camp Woodstock, so I did a pseudo-brick: Actually, a BSOTSD (Bike and Swim On The Same Day, if BRIC is a Bike and Run in Combination).

The swim was OUTSTANDING! We’ve been sending the kids up to YMCA Camp Woodstock in Woodstock, CT (Duh, but everyone assumes it’s Woodstock NY, so I usually mention it). The kids absolutely love it, and I’m jealous as all get out. It’s a plain, old traditional summer camp – swimming, and outside, and climbing, and stuff. Coed. I’m jealous.

Anyway, the last couple of years, on either dropoff or pickup we’ve gone on giant bike rides, or I’ve swum in the pond, or whatever.

Today? Well, can you ask for a nicer day?


No, no you cannot.

Swim was great – 10 minutes out, 10 minutes back. Water was perfect, and this everything felt smooth.

So, got the kids home, unpacking, etc. And decided to run out for a bike.

Occasionally, there’s beach traffic backed up on IH-95 south on Mondays, so I take a back road across the RI border. For about 10 years, I’ve been thinking “Man, that’d be an awesome ride.” So, today, I rode it.

I had an epiphany earlier this week: Cold Brew Coffee as the basis of an energy drink. 1 part Cold Brew, two parts Water, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of sweet. Loaded it up and hit the road.


I was right – the course was outstanding. Good long drag down CT 184 to the border for the first hour. An hour of mostly downhill and rollers to Westerly, through fields and dairys. The birds sang, the breeze blew, and the sun beat down on my ears.


The last hour was the drag from Westerly back to Mystic, which I’ve ridden a thousand times (Maybe hyperbole, maybe not…). And, after 2 hours in the sun, only two bottles of drink, and one Kashi granola bar, I pooped out.

If you’ve never bonked before, it’s kind of interesting. Just before, you are feeling somewhat fine – maybe in the hole, maybe a little on the good side. Then, in the space of 100 pedal strokes, everything just kind of leaves you. Air stops entering your lungs, your heart stops pumping, and your legs just don’t want to work. A saddle that’s been comfortably beneath you for thousands of miles is suddenly assaulting your rump.

Anyway, this happened to me just as I came to the light at RT 1 and Flanders road. I coasted through to the shade on the west side, and sat down. SOmehow after finishing my last bottle and sitting for a couple minutes, I was able to get back on the bike and limp home.

The bonk was glorious. Which isn’t to say I’d like to do it again anytime soon, but there’s something satisfying about finding the limit, pushing past it, and realizing that there’s work to be done to move that limit further out.

28 Days of March to Go

Mother Nature continues to be a Mother*.

Today, I went to pay my respects to the waters, to spend some time immersed and moving through them. A lovely mile in the pool ensued. “Ha”, I thought, pictures of lovely summer days swimming in the sound, bay, ocean, and lakes running through my head. “It can’t be winter while I’m swimming, right?”

The swim was good. Not noticeably faster, but still good. Form felt good, lungs felt good, and there was a little bit left as the pool closed and I had to call it quits. But, I felt good; convinced that I had this winter thing licked.

Winter had other plans.

As I left the pool, snowflakes were beginning to fall, and by the time I reached home, they were coming down pretty well. But, as Tony Robbins told me, I can’t let other people set my own reality – I must take control of what’s been given to me. So, after supper, Missy and I set out for our after-dinner stroll of the neighborhood. Tons of snow coming down; about an inch in the hour we’d had supper.

But, as I’ve unilaterally declared Winter over, we went for our usual after supper stroll. Kind of a lovely walk, with snow crunching underfoot, and gentle flakes falling down. Which would be great, ‘cept winter is done.

Wish it believed it.

Didn’t step on the scale today, but had a bad, bad eating day. Calorie counting says I ought to have broken even, but it needs to wait until I get back on the scale.

29 Days of March to go

Tony and I still have much work to do.

I arrived at the office today after a 2 hour work delay to allow New England to shovel out. Winter, it seems, doesn’t really believe in the power of positive thinking and goal setting. Or at least that’s what it thinks. So, I set a determined face, and decided to double down on my quest to end this season until sometime later in 2015 when I decide it’s time to break out the skis again.

Plowing being what it is, and work being what it is (namely, a time sink into which daylight hours disappear), resigned myself to a little bit of time riding the rollers in the basement. Fortunately, the past weekend was the beginning of the Belgian spring classics season, so there were plenty of quality youtube videos from Cyclocosm and others to get me through 50 minutes of trying to simultaneously:

  • Smooth out my pedal stroke
  • Not Puke
  • Not ride off the edge of the rollers
  • Playlist can be accessed here, or watched below:

    Quality pool of sweat under the bike when I was done.

    Progress to date:
    Still 4 lbs above beginning of winter weight, 19 lbs to semi-fighting weight. Winter gains an additional 4″ of snow.

    30 Days of March to go

    Screw it, I’m done with winter.

    There, I said it. D.O.N.E. Done.

    Part of the beauty of living in Southeastern Connecticut is that Winter’s usually sort of tepid. Sure, we’ll get a nor’easter once in a while, but those are generally to scare off the snowbirds or other folks who’d also complain that there’s no AC in summer, or that there’s no parking, or whatever. But usually, the winters come with breaks – snow one week, mid-40’s the next week. So nothing’s ever iced up too long, and you have to treasure snow the few times a year you get it. Makes the shoveling easy, too, since you don’t have to toss the snow up too far.

    But, Saturday rolled around and, since the temperatures were within spitting distance of freezing, I busted out the trusty old Cross bike and rolled down to the package store to pick up some beers. Mmmm, beers.

    Later that evening, drinking said beers with some like-minded neighbors, I came to a decision that kind of surprised me. Namely, that I could, unilaterally, declare winter over. Done, finished, finis, ended, omega. Power of positive thinking, right?

    I’d been catching up on TED talks Friday afternoon while working, and had caught this one by Tony Robbins. In general, I think he (and many other power of positive thinking folks) relies too heavily on anecdote, single examples, and survivor bias, but, sitting there Saturday night and then Sunday morning with a little bit of fuzzy head from the night before, I kind of wondered if maybe he wasn’t right? Maybe life is choices; maybe we do have the power to shape our reality.

    So, Sunday afternoon, I headed out for a run. Even though it was 20 degrees and snowing. “Winter,” I thought, “Tony Robbins and I are going to make you my (censored)”.

    5 miles later, sitting on the porch, ice falling off of my eyebrows, I looked around through the falling snow and gloated. Tony and I are going to kick this.