Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Movie? On a Weeknight? I'm Out of Control

Meeting up with an old co-worker of mine and his wife tonight for dinner, beers, and this ....

I've been very impressed with the way they've advertised this and gotten the message out in unconventional ways, and it looks pretty interesting, so I'm going to give it a go.  The guy I'm meeting for dinner started training for Tris about the same time I started training for marathons, so it should be a meal full of swim/bike/run talk.  I suspect by the time we're done I'll have visions of bikes in my head.  I've always got the possibility of moving into Tris in the back of my head, and I don't think it will take much of a push for it to become more than just a thought.

As for running, I need to invest in a headlamp for my early-morning and late-night runs.  I have one that I have used a couple of times, but it's actually a light I bought for fishing (also early-morning, late-night), and using it running is similar to tying a car headlight to my head with a rope and a prayer.  I do a lot of my running on the cart paths at a nearby golf course, but they're doing an overhaul of the course and the assorted machines are busting up the paths.  After nearly stepping in a hole about a foot deep in the middle of the path a few nights ago, I've decided a light is pretty urgent.  I can hurt myself well enough on flat trails in the middle of the day.  Throw in  darkness and potholes and I'm an emergency room waiting to happen.

Anybody have any suggestions based on personal experience?  Recently saw a blogger suggestion for the Princeton Tec Quad Headlamp, which looks pretty good but gets mixed reviews on Amazon due to some plastic parts wearing out.  Any others that folks would recommend?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Swimming for Japan

The swimathon that my kids put together over the weekend to raise money for disaster relief in Japan was a big success.  We started with a ‘carb-loading’ lunch for them (spaghetti noodles with butter and parmesan), then headed to the pool to do good for the world.
They started off strong and enthusiastic, and stuck with it until they reached their goal of 100 laps.  Mom and dad chipped in for a few laps when the team got a little tired, but they rallied with a late charge and finished strong.  The bickering factor was low, which is a big measure of ‘success’ for a family event these days.  Everyone slept very well that night, so we’re thinking we may need to come up with more reasons to swim to wear out the kids on the weekend.  They raised a total of $240 for the Red Cross, and we’re very proud.  Hopefully building the foundation for a life of helping others.

In completely unrelated news, my wife and I actually went out on a date without the monkeys Saturday night, which included the movie The Lincoln Lawyer.  Two big thumbs up.  We’ve been pretty disappointed with many of the movies we’ve seen lately, but this one was really, really good.  I had forgotten that Matthew McConaughey can actually act after all the horrible movies he’s done over the last few years.  This one and The Fighter are the two movies we’ve seen fairly recently that are worth your while.

The weather over the weekend was ugly, but I managed to get in my two planned runs – 3 miles on Saturday and 6 miles on Sunday.  I wasn’t feeling it when I headed out on Sunday, but I thought of several fellow bloggers who are dealing with injuries right now and would kill to be able to run, gave my brain a kick in the ass, and got after it.  Really good run with very little pain at an 8:15 pace.  Maybe my legs are finally deciding to play nice with the rest of my body.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Kids Save the World

Ok - perhaps a slight exaggeration.
I will readily admit that sometimes my kids drive me nuts.  Conversely, I’m sure I drive them nuts as well.  I know I drive my wife nuts.  Ah .. the circle of life.

However, my kids both have big hearts and a strong desire to do good for the world, and they actually act on that desire to help in ways that make me very proud.  With all of the coverage of the tragedy in Japan, they recently came to me and my wife wanting to know how they could help.  We suggested they think of how they could use the abundance of activities to which we cart them on a daily basis to raise funds to send for relief.  My son starts a twice-weekly swimming clinic this weekend, so after some creative and highly complex alternative ideas, they settled on raising money via a ‘swimathon’.  They would contact friends and family and ask them to pledge a per-lap amount, up to 100 laps, and then donate the collected money to the Red Cross.  Sounded like a good plan to us, so we gave them some ideas of how to spread the word and set them loose on the interwebs.

In less than a week they’ve managed to pull together a collective sponsorship of $2.00 per lap, so if they hit their 100 lap goal they will have raised $200 to help Japan recover from the devastation of the earthquake/tsunami.  In their world a lap is the same as the length of the pool.  When I get back to swimming for cross-training this summer I think I’ll do laps in their world.

The swimathon is tomorrow, and I’ll be in charge of the photography for the ‘event’.  I love that they wanted to do this, and I really love that they acted on it and will follow through and make it happen.  I could learn a little something from them about turning good intentions into reality.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Running Blog? Really? Are You Sure?

Just looked at my training plan and realized I’m already in the 5th week of my mileage-buildup plan, and I seem to have forgotten to blog about my running.  Not that my tumors, and Mr. Mom adventures, and fancy new shirts aren’t all riveting, but I need to get back to some training logging and blogging to hold myself accountable.
With the exception of not making it to the gym much during week 2 while my wife was out of town, I’ve stuck to the plan fairly well.  My right hip, right knee, left calf, and feet have all been pretty cooperative.  I’ve got some tenderness in my right Achilles over the last couple weeks, but it’s been manageable so far with a little ice and my good friend Advil.  I set goals around running, lifting (upper body), lifting (legs), and abs/core work.  Here’s how it’s gone so far:

Running (Goal – follow the training plan)

Week 1:  Plan (4 runs, 14 miles total)   …..    Actual (4 runs, 16.12 miles total)
Week2:  Plan (4 runs, 15 miles total)   …..    Actual (4 runs, 14.57 miles total)
Week 3:  Plan (4 runs, 16 miles total)   …..    Actual (3 runs, 13.09 miles total)
Week 4:  Plan (4 runs, 12 miles total)   …..    Actual (4 runs, 15.34 miles total)

In week 3 I substituted 40 minutes on the stationary bike on the meanest setting I could tolerate to try and get a little cross-training in the mix.  Didn’t really enjoy it much.  Fresh air is my friend.

Lifting – Upper Body (Goal – 3 days a week)

Week 1:  2 days
Week 2:  1 day
Week 3:  3 days
Week 4:  3 days

Lifting – Legs (Goal – 1 day a week)

Week 1:  1 day
Week 2:  1 day
Week 3:  1 day
Week 4:  1 day

Also did lunges and my hip Physical Therapy routine on separate days in weeks 1, 3, and 4.

Abs/Core (Goal – 3 days a week)

Week 1:  2 days
Week 2:  1 day
Week 3:  2 days
Week 4:  3 days

No gold-star for hitting all my goals, but I’ve made a decent run at it.  I’m having a hard time keeping my run distances as short as the plan dictates, but I’m not willing to risk another injury, so I’ll stick with the schedule.  I’ve been focusing on form, and haven’t really worried about my pace.  Looking at the stats it looks like I’m averaging around a 9-minute mile.  I need to slow that down a bit and teach myself how to hold good form at a slower pace.

Now that the weather is warming up I’m looking forward to getting my sweat on.  Let's see what you've got Mother Nature..

Friday, March 18, 2011

And you shall have Izumis, crafted from the finest Pearl

Like many other runners, I likes me some new gear.  While training for my first marathon I may have gotten a little out of control buying new running ‘stuff’.  The downside was the associated price tag, and the property damage every time the mailman tried to cram my credit card bill into the mailbox.  Fortunately, I’ve successfully rehabbed from my buying frenzy, and I emerged with a good set of gear that I liked, and seemed to do the job for me.  Having not bought much gear in a long time, when I do get something new now it’s like Christmas morning.  If the new gear is free, then it’s Christmas morning at the Sheen house.  Crazy good times.

My good friends at Outside PR recently took on the role of Santa Claus, and sent me a package loaded with running-gear goodness from Pearl Izumi.  Inside were Infinity running tights (a new category in the gear collection), an Infinity In-R-Cool long-sleeve shirt, and a pair of Pearl Izumi Syncrofloat IV running shoes.
Bricks sold separately

Pearl Izumi Synchrofloat IV

I’ve been a faithful wearer of Asics Gel Nimbus shoes for at least the past 6 years.  Before that I tried several different brands, but once I got the Asics I never looked back.  Admittedly, the models from the other brands weren’t their top-of-the-line models, so perhaps it was an apples to bananas comparison, but the Asics did the trick so I stuck with them.  My only complaint had been that the toebox seemed to get narrower as they released new models, but the newest Nimbus 12 addressed this issue with a larger toe-box.  Admittedly, I was slightly reluctant to try something new, especially with my recent history of Plantar Fasciitis, but in the interest of science I gave the Syncrofloats a go.  So far so good.
Money, it's gotta be the shoes

I swapped out the insoles with my trusty Superfeet Green insoles, as I do now for all my shoes, but otherwise they are unmodified from the box.  They actually feel very similar to the Gel Nimbus in terms of arch location and toebox sizing.  According to the specs they are lighter than the Gel Nimbus, but I’m not fine-tuned enough to really tell the difference.  They feel a little less cushioned that the Nimbus, although I’m still breaking them in so they’re a little stiff, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I’m still trying to train myself to consistently run with a midfoot strike, and I get better feedback from these shoes as my foot strikes letting me know if I’m hitting midfoot or the dreaded heel.

They’re very well vented and comfortable, and work well with my mostly neutral gait.  I’ve not noticed any issues with rubbing, or hotspots, and have had no hints of blisters.  My longest run in them has only been 5 miles, so I’ll see if increased mileage changes anything.  They run a little smaller than Asics, so I went a half-size larger than my Asics, and the fit is just right.  I’ve officially added them to my usually 2-shoe rotation, and I would definitely recommend them as a good training option based on my limited experience with them.

I’ll post periodic updates once they’re fully broken-in and are being worn on longer runs.  Based on the name I have to assume these also give me the ability to walk on water.  Like speedy little foot-boats.  I haven't tried this yet since I don't want to give away the secret and spoil my advantage.  Figure I'll wait until the last couple miles of my next marathon and take a short-cut across a lake, or the Potomac River.  This will no-doubt be my finest hour.

Pearl Izumi In-R-Cool LS Shirt

This was truly an unexpected surprise.  I’ve got a bunch of short-sleeve technical shirts, but only 2 long-sleeve technical shirts.  If the temp is 40 or above I’ll typically just go with a short sleeve shirt, and below 40 I’ll wear a short-sleeve technical shirt with a fleece shell over it.  I love to sweat when I work out, but I want to earn the sweat through work, rather than being dressed too warmly.  This shirt fills a nice gap as the weather warms up, but the early mornings are still a little chilly.
New shirt, new shoes, same old busted legs

I can say without a doubt this is the nicest running shirt I now own.  The material is super light and crazy soft, and wicks sweat extremely well.  It’s got all kinds of fancy mesh panels that keep the air flowing well, and stop you from overheating.  In the pictures I intentionally wore this on a day that was too warm for it (around 60 degrees) to see how it would do with wicking and keeping me cool, and it was truly impressive.  I kinda lucked out with this shirt in that the fit is almost like it’s tailor-made for me.  I need to stay away from the Guinness and/or chocolate-covered pretzels or this shirt may not be looking too good wrapped around my girth.  Perhaps I could call it compression-gear at that point.
What the ladies see right before they Chick me

My wife and my daughter both commented on how much they like the shirt, which is a rare double-compliment on anything that I wear.  I’ll add that I think it looks good too, but that’s about as valuable as Donald Trump’s opinion on hairstyles.  This shirt keeps me warm before and at the start of a run, and keeps me cool during and after, and looks/feels good throughout.  I like it so much that I’m actually following the care-instructions to try and keep it alive as long as possible, which is not the way I usually operate.  Bull in a China shop with my laundry habits.  Shirt stink … me wash … dryer hot … grrr.

If you’re looking for a new workout shirt, and don’t mind investing a few dollars, I would highly recommend giving Pearl Izumi a try.
Yes, we are perfectly synchronized at all times.  Just how we roll.

Pearl Izumi Infinity Running Tights

I’ve worn the tights a few times, but unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of me wearing them, so I’m going to hold off on posting a review just yet.  What fun is posting a running-tights review if I can’t subject you to pictures of me wearing them?  The first couple runs I wore shorts over them, but after reading another blog post mocking guys who wear shorts over their tights, I gave in and ran without the shorts.  Have to admit I felt a little naked out there.  Different, however, from the times I’ve actually run naked.  Ah college ….. good times, good times.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Runs In the Family

What a difference a week can make.

This time last week I was anxiously awaiting biopsy results and wanting the seemingly endless weekend to come to an end.  Tonight I’m exhausted after a full weekend of landscaping, geocaching, volunteering at the Interfaith Food Shuttle, enjoying an adult beverage or two, and of course running.  The weather this weekend was ridiculously nice here in NC.  Warm temps and the time change have resulted in a serious case of Spring fever in the Evolving household.  This time I’m sad to see the weekend come to a close.

This time last year I was a week away from my first marathon.  Sometimes that seems like a long, long time ago, and other times it seems like just last week.  This year I’m slowly working through a long, slow, deliberate buildup to a Fall marathon.  Although I miss the regular abuse of the long training runs, the more relaxed approach gives me a chance to do this:
Yes, today was the first time both of my kids have ever run with me.  Yes, I was fueled by a mixture of happiness, confusion, and a fear that it was part of a cruel practical joke.  I loved every step.  The kids did about 1.5 miles with me, and then I coasted through another 3 sunny miles.  It was as close to a perfect run as I may have ever come.
The shirt and shoes are some new Pearl Izumi gear that my good friends from Outside PR have been kind enough to let me try.  They also sent me some running tights to keep my fragile legs warm on cold winter mornings.
I’m working on a review for all the gear.  So far I'll say if I were a student-athlete at BYU and loved the shirt any more I would risk being kicked off the team.  It would so be worth it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Benign is Divine

That sound you hear is me exhaling after holding my breath for 5 days.
Got the call from my endocrinologist today letting me know that the tumor on my thyroid is non-cancerous.  This means yearly monitoring to see what’s going on in my neck, but that beats the heck out of the alternatives.  Still wondering why I have this little critter growing inside me, but in following the theme of the blog I’m choosing to believe I’m rapidly evolving.  No doubt this mutation will soon reveal some sort of X-Men superpower which I’ll put to use to fight crime and rid the world of villany.  I’ve already got the running tights, so it’s all finally coming together.

I am humbled and deeply moved by the comments I received when posting about this last week.  The fact that so many people who I know mainly through exchanges of blog posts, comments, and the occasional email would express such concern and reassurance is truly remarkable.  I started this blog mostly as a way to figure out how to stop falling apart from running, but it has become so much more meaningful than that in terms of what I put into it, and more importantly, what I get out of it.  I thank you all for your support, and it won’t be forgotten when Thyroid Man is protecting you all from the evils of the world.  Ok …. maybe the superhero name still needs a little work.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wind Knocked Out

Survived the 5 days alone with the kids, with no bloodshed or significant drama to mention.  Mrs. Evolving returned last night, and sanity has been restored.  The highlight of the weekend was my son, who is more inclined to play video games than do anything outdoors, asking if he could come along with me on my Sunday run.  I needed to do 4 miles, so he ran the first approximately 1.2 miles, and I dropped him at a friend's house and knocked out the rest of the run.  I think it's the first time anyone from my family has ever joined me on a run, so it was a pretty big deal.  Hopefully it will become a habit, but I know not to push it.  We'll see if he invites himself this weekend.

As for the blog title, a mild sore throat about 3 weeks ago has evolved into an ultrasound revealing a tumor on my thyroid, with a biopsy this morning and most likely results from pathology on Monday.  I'm a bit numb right now thinking of the possibilities.  2011 has not gotten off to a very good start.  Should be an anxiety-filled weekend.  Whatever happens, we'll deal with it head-on.  Running, and blogging, will be a big part of coping, so I figured I'd lay it out here from the start.  I have no intention of missing the Marine Corps Marathon, so I'm taking a cue from the marines ..... Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.