Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 12 Hour ATR Race Report

This has been quite a year. I've toughed it out through an 8 hour race, a 24 hour race, and a few shorter races. I moved a few months ago, I'm in the middle of dealing with a flooded basement, and I still have a trip halfway across the country to plan for. So no, things haven't been quite lately. So to say that my training has suffered from all the stress life has thrown at me is quite an understatement. But I'm okay with that. Part of running is dealing with adversity, adapting to it, and either pushing through it or finding a way around it.

Last weekend I spent a few hours in the emergency room with back spasms. It was sudden, painful, and still on the mend. I knew the day after that I was going to be healthy enough to at least start the 12 hour race. But I also had to temper my plans and just chill out and not do anything stupid. I wanted to live to run again another day.

And that's exactly what I did. I played it safe, dealt with things as they arose, and pushed through the pain to meet my original goal from earlier in the year. In some of my other races I felt the need to run for other people. Friends or family that either died or were sick. People that were important to me in some form or fashion and I felt the need to honor them by running in their name. A lot of people do it for a lot of different reasons. I generally didn't advertise it but it was still something I felt like I needed to do. Well, for this race, I did it all for me. And I didn't feel one bit guilty about it either. In fact, I frequently found myself doing something I very rarely do when I run a race, I smiled. A lot. And if felt damn good.

My day started at 0345 when I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm. Instead of trying to get another few minutes of sleep, I just got up, showered, and headed out the door. I got lucky and had dinner with fellow runners the night before who agreed to carpool my stinky butt to the race. So by 0430, I was loaded into their car and headed to pick up Moises, the other runner they were picking up. Mike and Tracy, and their son Mikey, were very gracious to make the offer to drive me and it made for a much easier day.

Once we unloaded our gear, we prepped, I saw a few other runners I knew and before we knew it, it was time to start. The first loop was mostly in the dark and I took things slow. I ran here and there but wasn't in a big rush. On my second loop, I ditched the lights and long sleeves and picked up my hydration pack. It didn't hurt my back but it made me feel it more than just the handheld. So when I came back through for my third loop, I ditched the hydration pack and stuck with the single bottle. For loops four and five, I did run out of water at the end of the loop but I was never more than mile from the finish so it wasn't that big of a deal.

While I could have pushed things hard on my fifth loop just to make an attempt at six, I knew by the halfway point of loop four that it would have been stupid. I was lucky to hook up with Moises on my last lap. We walked nice and easy and played it safe. Near the end, fellow local runner Rob caught up to us so he helped us push the pace a little bit at the end.

In the end, I'm happy with how things went. Sure I could have done better with so many things but to be able to do so many miles without too much effort felt great. So I'll take it as a win and move on to my next goal.

The cemetery in the woods.

One of many gravel roads.

One of a few spots where I stopped long enough to bask in the sun.

Enjoying my donut (off camera) with my feet up at the end of the race.

Temps were about 55F to 60F at the start but warmed to about 75F to 80F. Sky was clear. Winds were light. Humidity was low.

Fluids and Fuel:
Had coffee, banana, and GenUCAN for breakfast. During the race I had GenUCAN electrolyte mix, plain water, and a bottle of GenUCAN. And a couple of coffees. I also ate some pierogis, half a grilled cheese, and some chips. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite, a donut, and Burger King on the way home. Although extremely tempting, I only had a sip of soda.

Aches and Pains:
Back was still tender but no pain. Feet hurt on the last two laps. Ended up with one blister on my right heel but it was too deep to lance. And I did have some mild monkey butt on the last lap but nothing bad enough to hurt in the shower. Outside of that, everything felt fine.

No new gear or special gear but I did get plenty of questions and comments on my JWalking Designs running kilt.

I normally track my time in the aid stations but each time through, even when going to the bathroom, I was there maybe 3 minutes at most so I didn't bother to track it.
Loop 1 - 1:52:12
Loop 2 - 1:52:28
Loop 3 - 2:00:01
Loop 4 - 2:19:21
Loop 5 - 2:24:30
Finish - 10:29:30

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On becoming an old man

As time passes, so do we.

I was recently reminded that I'm getting older. While we've taught our children to be polite, I can tell they're lying when they say I'm still young. I know they think I'm old. But I still appreciate the gesture of them being polite and trying to boost my confidence. And maybe get a free toy.

So where does all this talk of being an old man come from? I totally wrenched my back on Saturday. Even today, just a few days later, I find it difficult to talk about. I don't want to be an old man. I see my parents and how old they are. I see my grandparents and how old they were before they died. I see so much age around me and I refuse to accept that I'm getting old just as fast as they are. So when I reached over to pick up that remote and my back seized up, I thought I was going to die.

Okay, so I'm being dramatic, but it hurt. A lot. Like a 9 out of 10 on the pain scale. It hurt bad enough I laid down on the dirty basement floor in my nice clothes in an attempt to reduce the pain. It didn't go anywhere. I rolled around on the foam roller like a half-dead fish but it still hurt. So I somehow muscled my way back up the steps and laid down on the floor up there and had my wife stretch out my back. It didn't help.

It didn't help to see the look on her face either. She kept looking at me like I was going to die. Was the pain on my face that noticeable? It must of been because she kept asking me if I needed anything. What I needed was somebody to take the damn knife out of my back. What I needed was that thing from Back to the Future.

I eventually got some cream rubbed on it and went to bed. I tossed and turned all night. Barely made it into any sort of standing position to use the bathroom. Which seemed to happen every 3 hours. Yet another sign I'm getting old, right? But I made it to the next morning.

And then I promptly called had my dad drive me to the emergency room. I felt like a damn kid again. It brought back memories of him driving me to the doctor one day and I'm barfing out the door. Or the day the Bears were playing in the SuperBowl and he cut his wrist changing oil and needed stitches. For a few brief moments at least, I was a kid again.

That all changed when I rolled into the ER. It's not a place I go nor is it a place I like to go. People go to the hospital to die. I hate it. Not the people that work there or even the patients. It's just the principal of a place that's sole purpose is to heal those so ill they can't take care of themselves. I don't like that. And sitting there in pain on a gurney wearing socks, underwear, and a giant t-shirt split down the back didn't make things any better.

Hearing the Code Yellow over the PA didn't help either. I can only hope they're okay. But I would like to thank them for making me realize that my back pain wasn't that big of a deal. At least not compared to whatever they had going on. So as I sat there and tried to distract myself, I pretty much just worked up my blood pressure beyond where it needed to be.

A group of nurses finally came in and got more info from me. Did this happen, did that, does this hurt, etc. The PA came over and poked my back a bit, diagnosed me, then left. The nurse continued asking questions and had no idea what lichen planus was. So that was a nice distraction for a few minutes. And the last nurse, or scribe, asked a few more questions after that. I found it odd that she took notes on her glove. Guess it's easier to keep that handy than a tablet.

After shift change a male nurse came in for my medication. Got to take a Valium and got a shot in my ass. Although he said it was in my hip, I'm pretty sure it was closer to my ass. After staying alive for 15 minutes I was cleared for discharge.

While I'm not 100% better, I will say that I was reminded that it's okay to ask for help. As much as I hate it, it's O K. Even when it's a pain in the ass like my shot, if it takes care of things, then do it.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Fighting Fireman's 5k Race Report

Just a low key, local trail race that was ideal for me to just get out and de-stress. Best of all, I got the chance to help a local firefighter and his family.

The race had a pretty good turn-out with over 50 runners for the 5k and 1 mile kid's race. I showed up early and helped with the registration table. From there, it was ready, set, go and off we went down the trail. The front runners were speedy of course but the rest of us were out there to have fun in the woods. Once across the finish, I hung around for the award ceremony then headed home to spend the day running errands.


Temps were about 80F. Humidity was high. Sun was out. Breeze was light.

Fluids and Fuel:
No breakfast before the run, just some coffee. During the run I had a bottle of plain water. Recovery was two slices of toast and more coffee.

Aches and Pains:
Nothing really hurt.

No special gear.

I had them but then cleared them by accident. But I remember the rough numbers.
Mile 1 - 12ish minutes
Mile 2 - 13ish minutes
Mile 3 - 11ish minutes
Finish - 36:06

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Let's talk basements, standing water, and mold

This is a novel, so skip to the end if you want to see what my question is. Otherwise, grab a coffee and delight in the fact that you got to enjoy your Labor Day weekend.

So our new-to-us-for-2-months house, aka Fort Max, experienced a flooded basement this weekend. We used an exterior faucet to do some cleaning and an hour or two later realized that said faucet had burst due to freezing. Seeing as it's September in Virginia, it had to have happened some time ago. Which means our home inspector didn't catch the busted pipe.

Lesson 1 - Home inspectors don't catch every single thing that's wrong with the house you want to buy.

As soon as we discovered the leak, we shut off the faucet, shut off the water in the house, and shut off the water to the house at the water meter.

Lesson 2 - Know where and how to shut your utilities off. Thankfully the house shut off was in the same wall as the leak and we could easily access it. Thankfully we also know where the water meter shut off was located as well as the special wrench to use (although a crescent wrench works fine too).

We immediately began tossing rags down and moving things that were still dry out of the way. Anything that was wet that could be dried off and saved, we did that too. And we started running the wet/dry shop vac to get as much water up as we could. It was laundry day so most of the dirty clothes caught some of the leaks. Not everything but it did help contain some of the flood.

Lesson 3 - Keep rags handy (ideally large towels) in case of a leak.
Lesson 4 - Store all your important stuff in your basement in plastic totes.
Lesson 5 - If you store items in cardboard boxes, wrap all the contents in a garbage bag.
Lesson 6 - Be prepared to lose anything that's on the floor.
Lesson 7 - Install a leak alarm of some sort.
Lesson 8 - Test all your utilities, like you faucets, right away when you buy a new house.

We were lucky to have two shop vacs on hand. My dad was on his way home so that added some extra help. William, age 7, could help a little but not a lot. Thankfully he could clean up the tools outside that we had been using to clean. Elizabeth, age 10, and my father were more help.

Lesson 9 - Have a clear chain of command when you encounter scenarios like this. The incident leader needs to delegate and communicate with all parties involved.

Once we got a break, we called the home warranty folks and they said a local plumber could come by. The next day. The same plumber we've dealt with before for a leaky toilet who was an ass. We tried to get a different plumber but no dice. The home insurance folks were more helpful and had a tech here in hours to help clean up. He sucked up some water, then set up fans and dehumidifiers. I'm glad I kept checking his work because one of the dehumidifiers had a drain line that fell out of  another drain line and would have just added water to the floor. We also had to run extension cords upstairs because the circuits kept popping from all the fans running.

Lesson 10 - Have fans and dehumidifiers on hand to help remediation start as soon as possible. These should already be a part of your standard issue basement supply list.
Lesson 11 - Check behind everyone's work, especially contractors, to make sure they're doing it right.

The jack-ass plumber came the next day and cut the supply line to the faucet and removed the faucet. He glued a shut-off valve to the supply line so we could still have water in the house. But he did a crappy job of everything. I'm no plumber but I at least know that when you cut a copper pipe, you need to de-burr the end. He didn't. You also need to clean the ends with sandpaper. He didn't. Instead it was a quick glue. Since the home warranty folks didn't want to pay for a pipe that had frozen, we said good bye to the plumber. We weren't going to pay him to do a shitty job. And as far as I'm concerned, he can join my blacklist.

Lesson 12 - Don't be afraid to tell a contractor no. It's easy to just say fix it but if they don't fix it right the first time, you'll be paying for it again later.

With the plumber gone and quick-fix in place, we're now waiting for the insurance adjuster to arrive, the clean-up people to come check on their work, and the HVAC service tech to ensure the equipment is still good. We already got the all-clear from the washer/dryer manufacturer to use the units. The "brains" of them are up high and they're built to be in an inch or two of water. But we still kept an eye on them just to stay safe.

Lesson 13 - After an incident like this, pay attention to any anomalies. This could be the pre-cursor to a new incident.

I know there will be more lessons in the future. But until the final outcome has been reached and everything has been repaired, who knows.