Thursday, November 30, 2006

The emotional rollercoaster of a pain in the foot...

After a month of no running, climbing, cycling, or anything else stressful to my foot, I took a 2 mile run to test the waters. No pain. Then another short run, and another. Then a four miler on thanksgiving morning. All these runs were on concrete. My foot felt fine. I went to see my sports med doc and he gave me the advice to "take it easy and add mileage slowly." All was great with the world.

Then I went for a short trail run. It was 60 degrees and sunny. I felt great and trotted around a 2 and a half mile loop nice and easy. I ran across an open field with rolling hills, through the trees and along a creekbed down into a deep ravine. I climbed back up to the field known to us Akronites as "top of the world." I saw a childhood friend on the trail with his wife and son. How perfect....

I was walking across campus the next day and felt a dull ache in my foot. Ugh!! So, I called my sports med doc and scheduled an appointment for an MRI just a couple days before christmas.

Happy's a cast. Come back and see me in 6 weeks and I'll put on another cast for 6 more weeks. Then, you can get back to life as you know it. Back to runs through the woods. Back to the climbing wall. Back to your bicycle. But you've got to wait 3 months. Damn!!!

Ok, maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. The results of the MRI will tell the real story. Regardless of whether or not I'll be in a cast my foot has to heal so I've got to take it easy. For now it's back to the pool and lots of "calcium fortified" soymilk and orange juice. It's lots of bicep curls and bench presses. And, lots of appreciation for how much I enjoy a run through the woods.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How about we sacrifice an overweight bird?? What'da ya say??

Well, thanksgiving has come and gone. I ate way too much pumpkin pie and ice cream, and spent way too much time sitting on a barstool after midnight. But alas, things will are returning to normal for about another month until the truly chaotic holiday. The night after thanksgiving was great; spent with old, old friends who I don't get to see often. They have left northeast Ohio for places like Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Melborne. They return to Akron, Ohio and admit that they don't miss it too much and that it hasn't seemed to change (except for the new Wal-Mart and CVS). And although northeast Ohio hasn't changed much it is changing. Everyone I grew up with here is changing. We are all older and wiser. I have found some wonderful places to sit and have a cup of coffee or a meal made from scratch. Establishments where the business owners serve you the food they cook and they are there every day. Establishments that still don't take credit cards. I have found places to hike where people are sparse and those folks that you see pass with a smile and allow the dog's in tow to run around in circles until they both sprint to catch up to their masters. I have a wonderful family here that urges me to keep evolving and encourages me to keep dreaming and to chase those dreams. I have friends here that have seen the wheel of my life spin in circles and have always been around to sip on a pint of ale and talk about all that is good and bad. I am truly thankful to have been born and raised in northeast Ohio.

I am also thankful Damon Jones has been shooting the basketball with some consistency and look foreward to Lebron taking the Caveliers to the promised land. If Larry Hughes can stay healthy and they continue to get the bench production they've been getting the last couple of weeks look out. If big "Z" gets more involved on top of that they will be in the NBA finals, guaranteed. As the season was beginning I thought that Dallas would come out of the west to face the Caveliers. And they still may, after they pull themselves out of the cellar following their dismal start to the season. But, I guess if the first couple weeks of the season is the best time to hit a rut. The cavs retro orange uni's the last 2 games were crazy cool, no?? I have just added an orange World B. Free jersey to my christmas list.

The home run for the homeless thanksgiving morning was good fun, as expected. Antonio Pittman was there to wish us luck and lead us in a little O-H I-O chant at the starting line. This run has been a nice tradition the last couple of years to share with the Capes and Neal families & friends. The weather was perfect and the course is very hilly. We started at the very back of the pack and were boxed in by housewives and out of shape youngsters for the first mile or so. As things started to thin out I lost the group I started running with just as the course headed into the beautiful Glendale Cemetery....and the hills twisted up, down, and around some of Akrons most influential families resting places. I felt pretty good except for my calf being a bit tight from another minor muscle tear a few days before the race. Goal #1 this winter is to recover coompletely from calf strains and gain strength and flexibility so that I get over this pesty pain in the calf. Before I knew it we were heading out of the cemetery and onto the west Akron sides streets meandering back towards Exchange street for the finish. I had a lot of juice left as I realized there was only about 1/4 mile left and turned it up a, more like 4 notches to the finish. My watch read 29:52 for the four miler which i was pretty happy with considering the circumstances. I'm pretty sure it's a 4 mile PR which should be broken on the next four miler I run, which just might be the Winking Lizard run in Cleveland next summer. If I break 20 minutes next year on a 5K I will feel accomplished. If I finish the half-marathon in Cleveland in May I will feel accomplished. So much for barstools and turkey dinners drowned in gravy followed by a big slice of pumpkin pie...

Until christmas.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Cold Rain and Snow...

I'd almost forgotten what a snowy landscape looks like, unil I awoke this morning. It is one of the types of snow we are used to in northeast Ohio. As the morning gets underway the snow turns to rain, turns to mush....cold, wet, mush. Add a little ice and you have a familiar late fall day in Akron. The snow on mornings like this is often the same type of snow we will see in the very early spring. But make no mistake about it, winter is just about to begin.

I need to do my christmas shopping sometime here in the next month. Damn!! I think the idea should be to do it soon and through the mail so that I don't have to go to the dreaded shopping mall. "The friendliest mall of all" is just down the way if I need it.

Thanksgiving morning there is a nice little run through West Akron to raise money for one of the homeless shelter's in town. Butch Renoylds will be there. Santa Clause will be there. You should be there too!! It's a good way to work up an appetite for Thanksgiving dinner and set yourself up for a nice nap on the sofa during the football game. This year the weather should be nice; around 35 or 40 degrees during the race and dry. Last year we ran through a blizzard. I recall one point during the last mile or so of the run when I had to stare at my feet to keep the snow from stinging my eyes. If I looked ahead, which I tried to do simply for the shear amazement of the situation, I could only see a for a few feet before everything faded into a swirling white abyss. By the fourth mile my beard was frozen solid and I was ready for the warm coffee waiting at the finsh line. This year will be a little different.

Last friday nite we were treated to something special at the Kent State Folk Festival, The Sparrow Quartet, fresh off an airplane arriving from Tibet. These folks were masterful, which is what one would expect from such a group of musicians. And, your grandmother would have liked it. As a matter of fact, she probably would have known a couple of the songs, as they played a handful of old tunes.

Well, I must be off into the cold rain to listen to lectures on mass wasting and geometric theories. Nothing like a morning thinking about dirt and triangles to get the week started...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Credit Where Credit is Due

Yes, I complain and complain about Damon Jones performance since coming to Cleveland. I post these thoughts in my new blog and then the 'ole chap goes out a week later and catches fire against the Knicks scoring 29 while hitting 7 of 10 shots from behind the arc. It's about time. I will be happy to stop bashing the guy if he gets a little consistency and gives us the bench scoring in the backcourt we so desperatly need. He may have been worried that Sasha would be taking some of his minutes with his recent surge in production. Maybe he corrected a hitch in his shot that he developed from adjusting to the breeze blowing inland from the Great Lake Erie. Whatever the reason I'll take it and insist that if we get production from he or Sasha off the bench we will all witness the cavs offensive production increase enough to not be a question of whether or not we need a point guard to make it deep into the playoffs. Speaking of poing guards, Eric Snow's minutes this year are minimal....maybe Danny Ferry and company will be trying to address the position before the trade dedline. My guess is that it lies in the hands of the bench players production.

Tonight at the Akron Library, journalist Kevin Sites will be speaking about what he has seen in his coverage of the war in Iraq. It should be interesting, if not troubling evening. I plan on squeezing in a swim workout along with some weight training either before or after this event. My calf raises on the "calf roller" on Monday has given me considerable difficulty walking which makes it "painfully" obvious that the time in the weight room will be beneficial. I have yet to regress into the Hulkamaniac of my youth, but look foreward to whatever physical and mental transformation takes place after my time in the weight room. Off I go to study my grimmace in the mirror so that I am in no way mistaken for a bleeding heart liberal or endurance athlete whilst pumping iron. No friends, no deadhead here; I am now an ass kicking meathead. Don't
f%$k with me, my economy car, or my tax and spend ideals. If you do, I'll be off at once to buy a Hummer and prove to you what a little testosterone is capable of....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Apple Cider on a Fall Sunday

It's another Sunday night and here I sit in front of the 'ole computer with a hot cup of cider. Fall is upon us folks, and winter is right around the corner. If the colorful leaves last month didn't awaken you to this fact, the stiff breeze that was blowing today was all the evidence that you should need. The spectacular fall colors are gone, faded to shades of brown, and the landscape is littered with the skeletons of Ohio's deciduous trees. If you recall, last year thanksgiving morn we all awoke to blizzard-like conditions in NE Ohio, and of course thanksgiving is just over a week away. I will welcome that first heavy snow and look foreward to tromping through the powder with my trusty four-legged hiking partner. But that hike will have to wait as today's cool air was just a sign of things to come.

I set out for my first run in about a month tonight wearing my winter hat and gloves. There is something wonderful about being outside, breathing hard, in the cold. It reminds me that I am alive and the harsh realities of this life are still outside of the four walls of my home that keep me warm and dry. I was elated to have my foot healthy enough to beginning running again. The repitition of my breath and the sound of my Asics harmoniously intertwined with my trusty running partner's tapping toenails and rhythmic panting was more than therapeutic. Unfortunatly, after just a short couple of miles it was time to head for home. The purpose of todays run was to test the foot and reawaken my body to the stresses of running. I suffered the consequences of the all too common side-effect of clearing my mind as well.

Saturday night, after watching the Cavaliers mighty comeback in the fourth quarter against the Celtics I decided to head to the video store to rent The Prairie Home Movie. It was excellent....if you enjoy the radio show. If you are not familiar with the radio show and enjoy dry humor or acoustic music it is recommended. If you become emotional at those times of awareness of the passing of time it is also recommended. If you are a "family person" it is recommended. If you are a republican and/or for big business, or consider yourself urbane it is not recommended. Personally, I think Garrison Keilor is a genius and tomorrow I will listen to the replay of Saturdays "Prairie Home Companion" over the internet while I work...just what I need to make another day at the same desk in the same corner of the same room transform from unendurable to enjoyable.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thinking of Allen

Allen, oh Allen,
How I wish you still had pen in hand.
Walking through the depths of purgatorial
life after life
are you in my wishes.

I enjoy you so.
Even now, when there is no more writing
I still read Kaddish and think of
Allen and Naomi and Aunt Elanor
all united in the womb of the afterlife.

And Allen, I still think of you.
And what lies ahead and if we'll meet
at this place of white light,
at the cock-ball-beginning-of-it-all.
I wonder if I'll see you there.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm Blue...

Ohio is blue. Congress is blue. America is blue....finally!! This should be a big step towards rekindling our friendship with the rest of the world, particularly Europe where they are much bigger Bush bashers than we are in the US. Just before the election Bush made a comment that went something like, "a vote for a republican is a vote for peace for generations to come." Makes me think of a quote that I've thought of often over the last few years. "Bombing for peace is like f#*king for virginity." Don't know who to give credit to for that one, but I like the analogy.

It's the end of incidents as we know them. I propose a toast to the good times......

After my swim yesterday I ran for a mile on the treadmill and my foot is pain free!! That is good news and if I can add mileage and put in a few miles on concrete without pain I think it's safe to say that there is not a crack in my talus. My current theory is that my tendons/ligaments in my foot were bothered when I switched shoes. So, I have made an insole change and hopefully things will be better. A runners feet are so temperamental!! The swimming is coming along much more quickly than I thought it would. The human body never ceases to amaze!

The Cavaliers put the stomp down on the Bulls on TNT last night. They made some free throws and got great bench production. If this continues look out!! And how about Sasha Pavlovic stepping up shooting 6-9 from the floor for 16 points in 25 minutes. He's a defensive liability and a bit out of control on the offensive end sometimes, but we sure could use some bench scoring at a guard spot.

I've got a big weekend of nothing planned and should be able to get back on the climbing wall and rest up a bit.....between loads of laundry, schoolwork, etc. If the weather holds I'll take Amaterasu for a spin. I have named my '91 Trek 1200 after the Japanese sun goddess due to her bright yellow color. It also seemed fitting as I plan to ride her in amateur triathlon's and duathlon's next summer. Speaking of, it's figuratively time to run....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Will Rake for Beer

After my classes yesterday I stopped to visit Paulie, who was home from work due to the fact that he has a broken Volkswagon to deal with. That, coupled with the seemingly endless amounts of vacation time he has acquired being a government employee had him poking around his homestead. In his refrigerator he had, as usual, a nice stockpile of micro-brewed beer. So, he treated me to a Hell Hath No Fury Ale. Another one of the concoctions from the folks in Kalamazoo it was as good as one would expect. The style is an "american dopple-ale," and the color of the brew was as black as night. mmmmm, good!! In exchange for this tasty beverage I helped Paulie rake his leaves. Seeing that his yard is pretty small this seemed like a great trade. Anyone else have an ale (or three), black in color, that I haven't tried they are willing to exchange for a little help with the leaves?

Today is a busy day with a chiropractor's appt., voting, ye olde job, schoolwork, and a swim to squeeze in. I'm also going to try and make it out to Appalacian Outfitters while they're customer appreciation sale is going on. Time for some new smartwools for the winter!!!

The foot is feeling pretty good and soon I will attempt to run on it to see if the pain returns. For now I'm enjoying my time in the pool and have learned how to keep the water out of my nose, even when my heartrate skyrockets and I'm huffin' and puffin. I think a triathlon is in my future next summer.

Off I go to "Rock the Vote."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Conformity of an Ant Colony.....

Let's think about ants for a second. Have you ever seen a more cohesive group of workers? Our military goes through intensive training to become similarly focused on one objective. Football teams practice week in and week out to turn 11 individuals into a "well oiled machine." Hundreds, or thousands of ants obtain this sort of unity without "practice." They don't even talk. Or do they?

When I was a child my Aunt Judy bought me an ant farm. I recall learning that I had to be careful not to pour too much water on the farm in order that I do not destroy the little "roads" the ants made in the dirt. If I did and the tunnels collapsed, the stress might kill them! Talk about passion!!! Ants may have one up on humans in cohesiveness and work ethic but they sure don't know how to control their emotions.

Migrating birds travel thousands of miles to the same damn tree year in and year out, generation after generation. They have no map. No GPS. Well, my friend Paul bought a GPS and he said he had it stolen by a Blue Heron. I don't believe it. Squirrels stealing M&M's....maybe (I saw that one with my own eyes), but I know he must have misplaced his Garmin. Anyhow, these birds and butterfiles fly these incredibly far distances, and all we do is chalk it up to instinct. Instinct?? That's the best explanation we can come up with?? We humans are lucky to have a "conscience," although I often question that these days. We are lucky to have such an ability to comunicate as clearly as we do. But man, wouldn't it be great to be a migratory bird and have "instincts."

We work our whole lives so that we can retire, buy and RV and steer that thing across the country while our silver hair blows in the wind. 65 years living life like an ant and a measly handful with the freedom of a bird....for however long we can hang on. I might need to be an ant for 40 hours a week, but I'm not waiting for my social security check to gain a little freedom!! From today on, I delegate working hours only for antlike behavior!!!! Who's with me??

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nose Plug's Please

Since I'm having this foot problem and can't run or climb I've started swimming. Yesterday was day 2 of this new hobby. I recieved a crash course in technique after my first pool session (thanks Jodi!) and was eager to get back into the pool to try and swim with my improved form. One of the concepts to being an effecient swimmer is to keep your weight over your upper body so your legs pop up in the water. So, I put on my new goggles to test this out. I found out a couple of things: 1) this is a much more effecient way to swim than with your head poking up out of the water; and 2) too much water goes up my nose with my head facing down into the pool. I tried to combat this by blowing as much air as possible out of my nose while my head was in the water. I kept thinking of using my nose like a whale uses it's blowhole to keep the stinging water at bay. It only worked part of the time. Hopefully, with a little practice I'll learn to keep the water out of my nose...or at least I'll get used to the burning sensation in my nose whilst swimming.

Last night we made a last minute journey up to the House of Blues to see the North Mississippi All-Stars. They sounded great and were having a blast on stage. I was of course indulging in a Christmas Ale and soaking in the ear candy. The room was only sparsly full with most everyone venturing up close to the stage, heads bopping to the beat. It seemed to me that the all-stars were a bit looser and shall we say....funkier than the previous couple of times I've seen them.

It was great to kick it with the Charleston folks this weekend!!! Hopefully we'll get together before you head back down south!!

The Cavaliers are for real this year!! How about them handling the Spurs in San Antonio last night. Their defense has really come around, and if they can keep the turnovers in check, make some damn free throws, and continue to stay balanced on offense they are going to be in the NBA finals playing the Mavs come this winter.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pray for Phil

Phil Lesh has announced he has been diganosed with prostate cancer. His prognosis is good, but yet this strikes fear in all of us who love him and the music he has been a part of for so many years. He put an announcement on his web page, and he is still playing the Vegoose show. Phil and Friends for New Years anyone??

Beer Bellies Waste Gas!!

I read a great article on how obesity contributes to an increased use of fossil fuels (and vice-versa). Here is an interesting thought: For each extra pound of passenger plus vehicle, on average, a vehicle consumes .000011 extra gallons of fuel per mile. I'm sure you'd agree this is a pretty small number. If the average person travels 14,500 vehicle miles per year, that means that we consume .16 extra gallons of fuel per person/per year/per extra pound. This is also a pretty small number. Statistics show that 60% of men and 50% of women in America are overweight or obese, resulting in the average American being 20 lbs. overweight. Multiply that by 210 million American adults . Now, if America lost that excess 20 lbs per person it means we would save over a half BILLION gallons of gas per year. That, my friends, is a large number. So, yes....the little things matter. One less pound, One less car, One less disposable cup per person per day and we have large scale changes. The full article on obesity and energy can be found here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Am A Witness

Times they are a changin'. I have not seen a cavaliers game in some time and had no idea how much smoke and lights are incorporated into the NBA games these days. There were courtside MC's, breakdancers, loud music, fireworks, and all sorts of hype. My friend Travis summed it up perfectly with his comment, "these games are geared towards kids with ADD." Every time the players left the floor there was all sorts of action going on.

The cavs loooked really good at points. Lebron was mediocre (by king James standards) and Larry Hughes looked like an all-star. The game came down to the wire with the cavs pulling it out by 3 points thanks to a big shot by King James, a couple free throws by the "wild thing," and a couple of big defensive stops. All in all the cavs looked like it was game #1 as they had some breadowns on both sides of the floor. They're free throw shooting was pitiful. 50% for the game and they were lucky to pull the win out with Varejao splitting 2 pairs of free throws down the stretch. Damon Jones shot 2 of 10 from the floor and has to be traded or needs to quit shooting. Or better yet, he needs to shoot the ball like he did before he came to Cleveland.

In more important news, how about the city of New York considering legislation that would limit resteraunts in the amount of oil they use that contains trans-fats. The topic will be discussed on Science Friday tomorrow on NPR. Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chilli's, Wendy's, and Ruby Tuesday's has already vowed to make the switch in their chain's nationwide. The entire country of Denmark has banned the oil. This is a pretty exciting move towards a healthier society and makes it painfully obvious that we should all think about the food we eat. Now, if we could just ban GMO's.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And the Dr. said.....

Well, I have been having a minor (so I thought) pain in my foot for a few weeks. It was mentioned to me that it might be a stress fracture so I immediatly quit running and scheduled an appoitment with a sports med doctor. That doctor and I had a brief meeting yesterday.

They took an x-ray and I was mildly emberassed when the cute x-ray tech gave me a little "skirt" of sorts and told me to "hold this around your waist." I of course thanked her for the "skirt" that deflects whatever the x-ray machine emits that my future children might find harmful and tried to act normal about the whole thing.

So, I take the x-rays to the doc and they show nothing, which isn't a suprise when it comes to stress fractures. And now I have a couple of options:

1) the most expensive and (of course) most logical choice is to get an MRI to rule out a fracture.
2) wait another week or so and run a little bit to see if the pain returns

If it is a fracture of my talus it's bad news. At best 6 to 12 weeks in a cast. At worst put a pin in my foot to fix it, then cast, etc.... If I don't get an MRI and it is cracked and I do further damage then I'm "really screwed, litteraly and figurativley" (to quote trusty Dr. Figler) and I will need a pin in my foot.
full recovery time is approx 5 months. OUCH!!!!!

Remember now folks.....let's be optimists.....There is still no certainty that it is cracked. I sure don't plan to be a couch potato for the next half year.

But, not all is bad in spite of my foot troubles....I'll be attending the Cavaliers season opening game against the Wizards tonite. My prediction.....Lebron gets 32. Larry Hughes chips in 18. Off the bench Donyell throws in 16 to go with 9 boards. Drew Gooden gets 15 and 12. And last and absolutly least, Damon Jones sucks again; but it doesn't matter as the Cavaliers win by 8.