So Many Changes

It’s been a long time – although I have been doing anything but sitting still – just not blogging.

I have been slowly getting back into running, cycling, and doing strength work. Over the summer, I have not been consistent, but have been inconsistently regular with my activities. I know that sounds strange, but I’ve taken 37+ mile bike rides, run a few times outdoors and many times inside on a treadmill, started lifting again via a circuit at the YMCA, and even run a few times outside. We have been very busy with Sue’s travel, getting our youngest off to college, and lately, getting my mother in law to agree to move back to Connecticut from Georgia. Sometimes I get tired just by thinking about it.

One good thing is that I won a free training session at my gym that I’m taking advantage of early next month. While I have been lifting, it’s been at my own whim. This will allow me to get some actual instruction on a strength circuit with machines outside of my Y.

Biking Adventures

I have been going to the gym a few times each week as the schedule allows, mostly spending time on the treadmill. I haven’t felt good all week – mostly allergies, so haven’t done anything since Sunday. On Sunday, I went on my first group cycle ride ever. There is a group in town called theSouth Windsor Walk and Wheel Ways. A group of around 30 people from all ages (10 – 70+) started at the high school and rode a big loop around part of town for a total of 12.8 miles. The ride was mostly flat, done at a leisurely pace, and with one big break and another one to re-group and allow recovery from the one large hill. Not knowing many in town, this was a good opportunity to socialize with a few healthy-minded individuals, mostly who have lived here their entire lives. Here’s a link to my ride as provided by a new biking app, Strava: http://app.strava.com/rides/8960104. I did get a flat on my rear tire at about the halfway point, but had a very experienced rider help me change it quickly. There was some teamwork involved to get the tire changed, then catch up with the lead group at the top of the hill.

I have also re-visited the Farmington Canals Heritage Trail for the first time since October when we had the snowstorm that downed trees throughout Connecticut. The trail has been cleaned up, with just a few indications that there was even a storm. Small trees are permanently bent over from the heavy, wet snow breaking the fibers of the trunk in October. The trail had many people riding, a good many more running, and even a few roller blading. This was a serious ride for me, done in prep for a 34 mile ride scheduled for under two weeks in the future. The 34 mile United Way ride was cancelled the next day, so prep was for naught, other than the obvious benefit of a great ride that whipped my legs into shape. I rode a bit over 34 miles on this relatively flat trail, taking a long break at the halfway point – the bridge over the Farmington River. The weather was overcast and could have started raining at any point.

While stopped on the bridge over the river, I caught the end of a high school crew race, plus had the opportunity to sit and take in the beauty near the river. The above pic was taken using Pro HDR for my iPhone which does a bit of evaluation of the scene, then takes two pics of varying exposures and stitches them together. The clouds were just calling for an infrared filter, so I applied that within the app and saved it. I’m always amazed that such a remarkable ability it packed within a phone that is almost always with me. I can now look at that photo, know that it was taken during a long bike ride, and remember the joy that the ride brought. At the end, I was tired, but was happy to have just gotten out there.

Looking Forward

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

I have been working out several times per week, including my first AM / PM bike ride today. Early today was a 5:30 – 6:30 spin class at the YMCA (okay, not officially a SPIN class but an indoor cycling class). The odometer showed 18+ miles during that hour. We did lots of position 2 & 3 with little in the saddle. I was pretty wiped after that, but felt good because I worked really hard during that class.

Then, I came home early and decided that I needed to get on my real bike. It’s a hybrid, Trek brand bike that I’ve had for about 10 years. I had clips installed last year that were compatible with the shoes I purchased for spin class. I have installed Garmin parts for capturing lots of metrics that I’ll cover in a later entry, so know exactly how far and how fast I’ve gone, my cadence and so on. Anyway, I headed out for that ride and realized about three miles out that my legs were dead but I needed to get home. So it was another 7 miles in total that evening for just over 25 for the day. The 10 hours between rides wasn’t enough but I felt great. Two rides in a single day was a new thing for me, but one that I could keep doing over the summer if time and light permits.

Heart Rate Monitoring

This morning’s spin class heart rate.

I was very concerned with my old Garmin heart rate strap for a couple of reasons. First, it had become very uncomfortable. The strap material had stretched out, so pinched when I was wearing it. The second reason was that it was providing readings that I perceived to be very inaccurate on the high side. The readings would start out correct, but would spike to well over 200 beat per minute (BPM). While I know that my heart rate can get up there, it is never really that high. So, I sprung for a new one from Amazon. $46 later, I have accurate readings once again. The chart above was from this morning’s spin class, creeping up as the class progressed from warm up to intense hill climbing. So with accurate metrics again, it’s time to reset my reality of what readings should be used for which zone. In turn, this will help me determine when I’m no longer getting the benefit due to over work.

Pushing on the Treadmill

I have continued to run on the treadmill at the gym. The one time I ran outside this spring was a few days ago. I had forgotten how different the experience is, and how much less forgiving the outside run can be. The corn on my foot seems to basically be the only thing bothering me after any run, but it was especially bothersome after the outdoor run. So I looked for what was different. The terrain, the speed, the incline, and the shoes. I’m very sensitive to not wearing outside running shoes on the treadmill and my size 12 Brooks Ghost shoes are dedicated for indoor runs.

These are the last shoes purchased, bought at last year’s Hartford Marathon expo. My other shoes are all Brooks, following up from the Radius line: Radius (retired), Defender (retired), Defender 2, Defender 3. Each of these are basic, neutral cushioning shoes. The difference in the Defender series are 11.5s and the Ghost are 12s. Could it be that the 11.5s are missing the length needed to provide space for the corn? I’ll be looking at this and think I might just have to re-visit my running shop, or maybe the local New Balance shop to be measured again. I’m also heading to a CVS on my way to work to see what can be done about over the counter corn fixes.

Something has got to give so I can get back out there running without the post-run pain.

A Hopeful Prognosis

This is just some of the debris from around our yard due to the very unusual Nor’Easter storm in October. This has finally been picked up by the town, but required many painful-to-my-foot trips from the back yard to the curb.

This is just some of the debris from around our yard due to the very unusual Nor’Easter storm in October. This has finally been picked up by the town, but required many painful-to-my-foot trips from the back yard to the curb.

I had a follow up appointment with my podiatrist yesterday and was conditionally discharged. Progress has been made on reduction of pain from my plantar fasciitis with the combination of the 500mg naproxen 2x per day (reducing swelling), icing, massaging the heal, wearing the boot at night, and resting my foot. Almost zero exercise has taken it’s toll in other ways, however. The weight has continued to creep up – because you cannot diet without exercise. So, I have started back on the Precor AMT machine at both the YMCA and the gym at work. I’m generally good for at least 30 minutes, then need to back off the resistance or I start to get a few twinges in the right foot. I’ve been very careful to stretch it out afterwards which helps quite a bit. I’ve had a few painful days, but only after being on my foot all day and, ironically, wearing my Brooks Ghost running shoes all day (casual day at work).