OFIR End of 2011 Wrap-up

Every year I do a quick re-cap of what has happened here at “One Foot In Reality”.

This has been one of those years where a lot has happened:

  • I finally agreed to knee surgery on May 17th and looking back I wish I had done it a lot sooner.
  • I started running again although rather slowly on June 15th.
  • On June 17th – I left teaching to join Mary in retirement
  • Over the course of the summer I was searching for a new focus for One Foot In Reality and tried several out, but none of them seemed to fit until I got back into running again. However, it got to the point where running was completely taking over what I was posting here and at that point we decided to make a new blog for running/health related posts called “A Veteran Runnah”.
  • The other big news is that Mary started writing blog posts and I know that she is a better story teller and writer than I am, so I have a feeling that I will bequeath “One Foot In Reality” fairly soon to her and occasionally guest post back here, while I focus on “A Veteran Runnah”.

There has been a lot going on in our lives and unfortunately, this blog has suffered a bit of inattention as we have directed our focus elsewhere. As the garden season get closer I can see up doing a lot more posts related to gardening and things that we are doing around the house to simplify our lives as much as possible. So while OFIR might be in a bit of a dormant state right now, I can see it coming back to life as the snow goes.

Below are our top 10 posts for the year based on pageviews:

1. Evernote as a Task Manager
2. Mobile Me Review
3. NOOK COLOR – REVIEW JANUARY 2011
4. Evernote Review
5. PAPER AIRPLANE LESSON PLAN 2010
6. Opus Domini – Electronic Organizer Review

7. The Greatest Speech Ever Made – Charlie Chaplin
8. Apple Text-to-Speech – Review
9. Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test 11/9/11
10. BLOGGER – MANUALLY IMPORTING BLOG POST PR

There was so much that happened this year and you the readers of this blog have helped make it a successful year. We just want to say thank and hope that you had a happy Holiday Season and a great New Year in 2012.

AVR – December 2011 in Review

This is the end of my first full month of writing and posting at “A Veteran Runnah”. It has done better than my wildest dreams, thanks to your support and help. I said thank you the other day in my Thank You for Your Support post. Everything I said in that post I mean wholeheartedly.

How Was December?

December that time of the year where for many drinking and eating are the main events wrapped around the many festivities, parties and other revelries. It is a time when families get together to celebrate and then after Christmas ends to celebrate the New Year or to celebrate that Christmas is over. It is also the time of year when I typically add 5-10 pounds from all that eating and drinking.

However, a funny thing happened this year on the way to my usual December binges.  I retired last June.

As part of that retirement, I don’t have the same temptations of year’s past. All of the great foods that co-workers bring in, the impromptu after work you will or just gotta goes and the made it to Holiday break parties you have for the kids in your classes – all those temptations to eat and drink more were gone.

The funny part was that I didn’t really miss them all that much. I missed seeing and talking with some of the people, but the binge eating and drinking I didn’t miss that at all.

This year December wasn’t the same and it was in a good way.

Running In December

I hit 100 miles for the month exactly today during my IRC Freezing Rain storm run. That is the first time I have not hit 100 miles in a month since 2007.  Mother Nature didn’t make it easy for me, but running within her moods is just a part of running, especially up “heah” in Maine.

I finished reading Chi Running for the first time and one of the big focuses during December has been to work on improving – ah hell changing  – my running style from a splay footed penguin to run with everything going in the same direction. It will be something that I am going to have to work on for a long time, all those bad habits that have accumulated over the last few decades aren’t going to go away over night.

You don’t know how good it felt for me to be back to running regularly again.

This month in a word: Psyched!
Weight
I ended November weighing 176 and ended December at 170 this morning. This was in spite of plateauing for a while in the middle of the month. Even though I didn’t have as many temptations as in the past, my wife is a great cook and baker, so there were plenty of temptations around the house for me to indulge in for the Holidays and yes I had my share of great food (but this time only my share).  So I would have been happy to have stayed even, but to lose 6 pounds in December – well that is unheard of for me.
Injuries
The right knee is not complaining nearly as much as it was in November, but that streaking stuff – I have to stay away from it. The knee demands rest every so often and barks loudly at me if I don’t give it enough.  Also, I really am not trying to go fast yet and I notice some pain if I do, so I am going to stay slow, build my base again for the next 3-4 months and then see where I am at. The lower back is still a little sore, but better than it was a couple of weeks ago. We figured out that how I was sitting with Bennie in my lap was part of the cause and the rest had a lot to do with posture and a bit is just getting older ;-).
Shoes
I ran in my Saucony Peregrines all but one day and they are still doing great. What more can I say about them other than they have done everything I could want from a running shoe and they now have 162.8 miles on them. The soles are just beginning to show a little bit of wear, but the uppers, other than some mud stains are in great shape. The Peregrine is an amazing shoe that I recommend others to take a very close look at – I know that I will when it comes time to get another pair this spring.
Top Ten Blog Posts for December
Here are my top ten posts for December based on pageviews:

1. The Hardest Thing About Running
2. You have how Many Pair of Running Shoes?
3. Dressing for Winter Running
4. Book Review – Chi Running

5. Buying New Running Shoes – How to do it?
6. Rest – Such a Four-Letter Word
7. A Runner’s Worst Nightmare
8. Choosing a new Running Shoe
9. Runneritis – A Dread Disease
10. Icebreaker – Passes the Stink Test

The thing that surprised me the most about this top 10 list, was that all of them were written in December since I started writing here most of the time. None of the old posts that I imported from “One Foot In Reality” cracked the list. That is a good thing in my mind.

Reviews
In the interests of transparency and since the Icebreaker post is still in the top 10 post list, I will continue to keep this information available to readers.
I was invited by the Natureshop to review 3 pieces (top, bottoms and glove liners) from the Icebreaker Merino Wool base layer clothing line. I have worn the Icebreaker base layer for most of my runs this week and at other times also.
They worked as advertised and from my unscientific point of view, they seem to transport sweat away from my body better than the synthetic base layer clothing that I currently own. See my other two posts on the Icebreaker line of clothing: Icebreaker Base Layer Clothing Review and RunLog 12/8/11 – First Run in Icebreaker Base Layer.

My IRC Run in Freezing Rain – 12/31/11

My last run of 2011, somehow it was a fitting test of my hardiness and dedication to running a lot.

There is a very thin line between dedication and crazy. I may have crossed it a little bit this morning when I ran. It was freezing rain with a pretty good build-up of ice on the road and I was out there running.

Not the smartest thing I have ever done and I admit that I had some second thoughts about doing it, but I am a member of the Idiots Running Club and I really wanted to get 100 miles in for December, so I went out and ran that final 2.7 miles that I needed.

I had ben out walking with TheWife and Bennie and it was bad then, after we got back we were drenched and were changing, she hollers out “The Sand Truck is going by, if you are going to run, this will probably be your best chance today.” When your wife half-challenges you like that you just have to go do it.

I did.

This is the road down back where I usually run, we didn’t even attempt to walk it with YakTrax on – really bad

It certainly was a slow run and I had to almost come to a stop to make my turns, but it was still running! The first mile wasn’t too bad, the salt/sand that had been put on the road worked pretty well, but on the second and third laps, the road was beginning to freeze up again and the little bit of traction that I had on the first one, was quickly going away.

This is where focusing on the foot plant and “peeling your foot” of ChiRunning was coming in handy, with the new running style I am trying to adopt, I didn’t slip/slide nearly as much as I did in the past. So the new form is better for nasty weather running than I thought it would be.

The run itself was quite easy and sure didn’t push it.

Quality of Run: Good slow run for the conditions
Weight: 170
Time of Run: 11:15 A.M.
Temp: 29F
Weather: Sleet/freezing rain, icy as hell, wind out of the north 10-15 mph
Clothes: Icebreaker base layer top, Nike Long Sleeve, Fleece Vest, NB Running Jacket, Running Pants, compression shorts, merino wools socks, Brooks HiVis hat, EMS Ear Warmer, gloves

Wasn’t cold, just a little wet.

Running in 2011 – The Year of the Knee

The Knee of the Year! 🙂

This is the first time in a long time that I get to recap my running year and it feels good to look back and say that I have run again. However, there was one single thing that dominated my life this year – My Right Knee.

The pain leading up to surgery, recovering from surgery, my eventual return to running and how the knee continues to improve, really has been the one thing that has stolen the show all year-long.

I wish that the year had been more about running and racing than about that damn knee, but that is what 2012 will be about.

January to June 14

When 2011 started it sure as hell didn’t look like I would ever run again and it would be a question of when, not if I needed surgery and how bad the surgery would be – up to and including a possible knee replacement. The first prognosis was that dire. My Ortho had ordered no running when left him in September and I followed that advice – well most of the time.

In spite of the Doctor’s “orders” every so often, when I was out walking Bennie in the mornings, I would try to run a little ways to see if I could or not. I was hoping against hope that some miraculous event had occurred overnight and that my knee would suddenly be healed.

Unfortunately, the answer every time was a resounding NO – it just hurt too much to run and the pain while walking was progressively getting worse. By the end of March I was having such a difficult time just walking that I resorted to walking with a cane. About that time I finally figured out that the surgery would take place sooner and started the process to get it taken care of.

May 17th

This was the day that I dreaded and made the long walk into the Hospital, not knowing what would happen during the scheduled Arthroscopic Exploratory Surgery. At this point we didn’t know what the Surgeon would actually find as I went under I remember squeezing TheWife’s hand.

Fortunately when I came to, TheWife was right there and was smiling. The surgery had been successful and what had gone on was damaged cartilage not degenerative as they had first thought! I would keep my knee for a lot longer! Phew that was a big relief.

Recovery from the surgery, while it wasn’t easy, was not as bad as the pain I had been in for several months before the surgery. I pushed hard and PT told me I was crazy and I agreed, but kept pushing.

I wanted – no needed to run again. The Ortho was rather anti-running and told me not to even try until he saw me later in June.

June 15th to July 14

First Run – I ran a freaking 1/2 mile! I made it without stopping around Howard Circle.

I was a runnah again!

Let me tell you I was scared as hell before that run. I knew that it would hurt. It was stupid, but I had to do it. I had to know if I would be able to run again or not.

Oh yeah I basically retired on June 17th, which has allowed me to focus a lot more on my recovery and return to being a helluva lot more healthy.

The Doc saw me on June 26th and he gave me a ration of crap about starting to run again without his permission. He basically flat-out told me that I shouldn’t ever run again, do so would just re-injure all the work he had done.

I just smiled and told him, I was running and would continue to run. He gave me that look like you dare to disobey my orders that Doctors give you when you basically ignore what they “tell” you to do. That is a whole different rant though.

That is what I did – ignored his “orders” to not run.

My physical therapist was a lot more supportive, being a runner herself, but told me that I would probably at some point that summer have to shut it down to let things heal a bit more and that it would be 9 to 12 months before it would be healed as much as it was going to heal.

For the next month I ran 1-2 miles a day and walked a lot.  Too much it turned out, the knee wasn’t quite ready for what I wanted to do yet. I tried to come back too soon and I didn’t want to damage it in any way.

July 15th to August 15th

Shut it Down time. The more I ran the more the knee started to hurt and swell. I may be stubborn and stoopid, but I do know when to stop and give the body a bit more time to heal up.  During that time I needed to let the knee heal up a little more and did a lot of walking, stretching and band work – only an occasional short run to check things out.

August 15th to October 15th

Started running every other day 1-2 miles. I purposely didn’t wear a watch or keep a log of what I was doing. That way I wouldn’t be competing with myself to do better than the day or week before. It worked. I have no idea of how much or how fast I ran during that period, but I know that the knee started to feel better and I was running. I added a few runs in the log here or there, but not too many.

October 31st

I had run up to 3 miles a day for a couple of weeks and felt good, so I decided to start timing and logging my runs again. The knee wasn’t 100% but it was doing really great, so it was time to go to the next level.

November 5th

I also decided that I was going to keep my running log in a blog, to create a sense of public accountability. So I created “A Veteran Runner” and later changed it to “A Veteran Runnah” in honor of being a native Maineiac, for many of us who do not pronounce “er” at the end of many words and instead have an “ah” sound :-).

November

I ran a lot more than I have in a long time ending up with 82.6 miles for the month with a runs up to 6.0 miles.  I was settling into a 9:00 to 10:00 per mile pace for most runs and was enjoying what I was doing immensely.

After talking with a lot of people I decided that I was going to put my Running Log on my “One Foot In Reality” Blog instead of having a separate running blog. Fairly quickly running related posts took over as the primary focus of “One Foot In Reality” and by the end of November I needed to decide whether to change the focus of “OFIR” to running or use “A Veteran Runnah” for running related blogging.

At the same time I began to get connected with the online Running and Fitness communities on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. It is a community that I was missing, after having been a part of the #edchat, #spedchat community for so long and the #runchat #fitblog #runnerds #runners all were passionate about running and fitness.

December 1st

I decided 3 days before December began to start using “A Veteran Runnah” as my running blog and had to get it ready to go live in that short amount of time. I figured that my blog stats would take a huge hit as a result of doing that. I really didn’t think AVR would take off like it has, but in the course of a month “A Veteran Runnah” has taken over as my primary blog.

I have even gone to using @VetRunnah as my primary Twitter handle, it just seems right for me and if I have a “Brand” that would be it. Although I have only been posting to “A Veteran Runnah” since December 1st (I did import old running related posts from “OFIR”), it definitely is my most successful blog in that short amount of time.

December 10th

I was selected to be a FitFluential Ambassador, which will give me opportunities to look into other streams of income that were not available to me before. That in addition to meeting a lot of really great people who are passionate about fitness and more than a couple of runners has made being a part of FitFluential a really great experience – Thank you Kelly and Danielle.

December 12th

I made a video of me running and saw how badly my running form sucked (ask me how I really feel about that video). As a result of that video, I really started to focus on correcting my penguin running style that I had developed over the years. As part of this form correction I have read Chi Running and watched a bunch of videos from them, PRS and others on how to improve my form.

Changing something you have done for several years is hard as hell, but I strongly believe that it will be worth it in the end and help to cut the number running related aches/pains and injuries. So that has been a big focus the last 2 weeks of December.

Bad JuJu

I did get caught up in trying a running streak and pushing too far/fast and had to back off a bit in mid December, sometimes I just get caught up in what I think I can do versus what I should be doing :-).

Racing

No I didn’t run any races in 2011, 2010, 2009 or 2008. That will change in 2012.

Final Stats

I knew that I forgot to put something in here.  Here are my final 2011 Stats. The one I am the most proud of is the 26 pounds that I lost – basically since 6/17/11 when I retired.  The other one that jumps out at me was the 100 miles for December, I honestly didn’t think that I would get that many miles until March or April, so I am a lot ahead of schedule.

The reality is that

being able to run again was very important to me. During this forced layoff I discovered that Running is a part of who I am and what I am. When I wasn’t able to run for such a long time because of the knee – I learned how much I really missed it.

I have created a new blog with a focus that I am very passionate about and found a community of wonderfully supportive people who want to help you succeed in your goals and kick you in the ass when you need it.

Yes I made mistakes in my return to running, but at the same time the things I did were more of the testing to see what I could do, versus the stoopid kind where you keep going even after you know you should be stopping.

Looking back

The first part of 2011 was pretty rough, but the last couple of months have been pretty damn good. I am glad that 2011 is ending, because 2012 has so much to look forward to – both in my running and the other parts of my life.

I do want to say thank you and I love you to TheWife, without her support a lot of this year would have been a damn site more difficult.