Look who’s back

Strange things happen at 3am, this is one of them

Strange things happen at 3am, this is one of them

There are two types of people in the world, those who succumb to shin splints and those who punch shin splints in the jugular. I think I have officially become a jugular puncher, and that’s good. It’s been 3 weeks since I have been back to running and I have been injury free. Because I am paranoid about another overuse injury, I have limited myself to 2-4 runs, each about 3 miles. I think my new baseline has been set, so this week I am planning some increases in distance and a maybe some speed work (no hill work, probably strides or something). Besides the weeks of rest, regular massage and short runs, I think/fear the biggest factor in my loss of shin splint is my Converse Probation. That bites. Wearing running shoes for everything is definitely more comfortable, but the feeling of a nice pair of high top Chucks can’t be replicated. I had some DT’s from my cold turkey withdraw, but I think I’m finally starting to come around. I haven’t reached for Converse, then cursed like crazy as I put on other shoes, in over a week.

Other good/bad/good/ok news is that after seeing good ‘ol Dr. Pohlman, I found out (as suspected) that I still have hypothyroidism. Since I skipped the Dr. recommended meds last time, and nothing changed, I finally folded and am (for the first time ever) taking some meds. From what Dr. P told me, the hypothyroidism is the cause of the energy loss and weight gain over the last few years. I thought I was just getting older, but who knew. He also said that might help explain how I trained for a marathon (last year) and gained 10 lbs. That one was a mystery to me, so I’m glad I can tell Scooby and Shaggy they can put that one to rest.

So I started taking these meds. It usually takes 4-6 weeks before you can definitely determine their efficacy but after just 2 weeks something awesome happened: My muscles don’t hurt anymore. Heck I didn’t know they were sore in the first place. For the last 4 years, whenever Krissy would massage me, she could use very little pressure. I thought I was a sissy and that was why I couldn’t take much pressure. But during my last massage, she was able to use “regular person pressure”. I didn’t even know muscle soreness was associated with hypothyroidism. So, total bonus. Now I can recognize how my muscles used to ache and can feel the difference. My runs over the last week feel different. My short run (5 miles or less) pace has dropped dramatically (over a minute/mile). I feel like I was running in sand or water and just came out of it. A strange freedom as I feel very agile. So with some hidden benefits associated with this, I’m wondering what other things have been screwed up by my hypothyroidism that will magically become fixed without me knowing it. Here are the ones I’m hoping for:

-ability to fly (I haven’t been able to fly before, I’m hoping once the meds get worked into my system I can fly)
-increased height (I’m 5’11”, but always wanted to be 6’+… drugs, a little bit of help here)
-deeper voice (I’m not talking slightly deeper, I want a James Earl Jones or Billy Dee Williams voice. “It works every time”)
-broad chest (I can probably do this on my own with hard work, but I want something that is effort free. Like when Ren Hoek (from Ren and Stimpy) has his Pectoral Implants)
-Monty Cristo making ability (what a delicious sandwich, I sure wish I knew how to make one. Oh wait, magic daily pills will make me learn)
-Tecmo Bowl skillz (yes with a Z. As a kid, Mike, Ira and Dan always whupped my but in Tecmo Bowl, I want revenge)

Here is Ren pre-pectoral implant

Here is Ren pre-pectoral implant

From what I have read, I’ll see some effects from the drugs right away, but will know the true effects after 4-6 weeks. So I guess I should get the supplies for my Monty Cristo now, because, well you never know when it’ll kick in. While I hate taking drugs, I guess living a healthy life (and having the ability to finally lose weight, fly and make a tasty sandwhich) are an OK tradeoff.

Oh, another weird reaction to these drugs, insomnia. For some reason about 3-4 nights a week I can’t fall asleep until 4am. The benefit here is I have a lot of newly found free time. I have been playing poker and watching terrible horror movies so far, but that might get old. If anyone needs anything done from midnight to 4 am, let me know. Karmen has already volunteered to have me take care of Nora when she wakes up in the middle of the night, but I’m ready for more. If you need someone to drive you home from the bar or perhaps a place to use the washroom after a long night drinking in Wrigleyville, call me, I’ll just be watching “The Fly” for the 30th time. (This paragraph has been brought to you by 5hr Energy)

In my many runs around Wrigleyville, and other spots in Chicago, I pass by a number of interesting places to eat. So I decided that each post I’ll give a quick review of a different place I ran past during the past week.

Cozy Noodle: Pan-Asian food. 17 out of 17 (my scale, I can make it any number I want)

This spot is on the corner of Sheffield and Cornelia (a half block south of the Harry Caray statue)

This is my favorite place to eat in all of Chicago. I swear that Krissy and I pay their mortgage with our regular business there. The food is fantastic, the service is great. We usually take it to go (live across the street), but if you dine in, you will be thrilled with the décor (old school toys, everywhere). BYOB, so the booze prices are great (4 liquor stores within 2 blocks). Every person I have brought here has had great reviews. A typical dinner, with appetizers (great crab Rangoon) is $23 for a couple (and you will have food to bring home). Lunch specials are $5 for meal and appetizer. My personal favorite is the Mild Yellow Curry (a very sweet curry) with chicken. I get an extra rice with it and it becomes two huge meals (officially somewhere in the 3.5-4 servings range). If you live in the area or go to a Cubs game you must check this place out. If you don’t you will never experience a truly fulfilled life. I wish I was joking but the food is that good.

Update from the Bellagio sports book, and the new odds for me completing the Whistlestop are 1:1. Even money, I’ll take it.

Running like a movie star

I'm the guy on the right.  Shin splints are the dude on the left.

I'm the guy on the right. Shin splints are the dude on the left.

Heee-yah!!!! Karate chop to the throat for my arch nemesis “the shin splint”. I’m back and feeling good. After a brutal 2 weeks of rest, I am able to run again and run I did. It was a measly, slow, 3 miles, but I ran and I feel good. The timing is perfect, since the 16 week countdown to the Whistlestop Marathon has officially begun. I will have to adjust my schedule some, since my 16 week schedule has me starting off at about 20 or 25 miles a week. For the next 3 weeks, to stay safe and shin splint free I think I’m going to be around 10-13 miles, so hopefully that works out. We’ll see.

During my two weeks I rested, stretched and played a ton of Wii Fit (I still am the world champ fish catcher while in Penguin suit). Also, while desperately looking for help in taking care of my shins, temporarily retired my Chuck Taylor Converse. This was pretty tough since I wear them (I have 13 pair) daily, but for the amount of awesomeness they have, there is an equal amount of terrible support and absent cushioning. Besides just having a nice marathon run, my new goal is to complete the marathon so I can wear my chucks again (oh shoot, right when the marathon is over, it’s time for snow and I’ll have to retire them again, nuts).

I am signing up for a 5K. Usually 5K’s don’t do much for me, I really enjoy the endurance aspect of marathons/half marathons, but I don’t think I can pass this one up. Plus, my guys Bones and Wudchuk are running the 5K and I haven’t run with them ever. Check out the awesome swag that comes with this race. http://www.terrapin5k.com/ I don’t even love (I mildly appreciate) the Grateful Dead, but the race looks fun, the shirt and bandana are tied-dyed and awesome, there is pizza, beer and live music after, so it needs to be done, and it shall.

Over my 2 weeks of rest I was reading a lot and trying to become a student of running. So after reading got boring I moved on to my favorite form of media, the movies. After careful polling and research (consulting myself), I came up with the following list of most educational runs in the movies (fear not, Forrest Gump will not be mentioned).

List of movie runs that have taught me the most:

Special Mention:

Kevin Spacey, Verbal Kint/Keyser Söze, Usual Suspects: The scene is when Verbal leaves police headquarters and is walking down the street. At first you see Verbal limping with his gimpy leg, then WHAM, in a matter of 3 steps he’s walking normal. This scene is also important because if it’s the first time you saw the movie, it’s the HOLY POOP moment when you realize Verbal is Keyser Söze. This one falls under Special Mention because he’s not really running here. However, if I ever get injured (again) while running and I need to go from Gimp to Gung-ho marathoner, I think I’ll do my best Keyser Söze impersonation and be running again in no time (then I’ll go rock a bunch of face, because that’s what Keyser Söze does).

Billy Cole teaching me that "do anything" attitude Billy Blanks (yes the Tae Bo guy), Billy Cole, Last Boyscout: The scene here is when it’s raining, Billy is catching a ton of heat for his “illicit” activities, he’s hopped up on drugs and running down the sidelines in the middle of the football game. First a linebacker comes at Billy, so Billy pulls a gun out and shoots him. Linebacker out of the way. Billy keeps running, then a safety drifts over for the tackle, another bullet to the knee. At this point everyone backs off as Billy runs to the end zone, pulls off his helmet, gets on one knee, says “Ain’t life a B$&#@” and blows his head off. While I don’t think I’ll be running with a gun at any point in time, I appreciate Billy’s Do Anything To Win attitude. Hopefully the end result will be better, but if I need to hunker down and get creative, I have that in my back pocket.

Top 5

#5– Seth Rogen, Ben Stone, Knocked Up: The scene is when Ben is in his house smoking what I can only guess is flavored tobacco (has to be, anything else might be illegal). An earthquake hits. Ben is shocked, grabs his bong and runs out of the house to safety. Granted, he leaves his pregnant girlfriend in the house, but let’s ignore that part and focus on the running. Ben was suddenly thrown in a dangerous situation, but instead of panicking or rolling up into a ball and crying, he grabbed what was important to him and ran to safely. I think this run will help me when the unexpected happens during a race. You can’t predict a blister, you can’t predict a trip and fall, you can’t predict some jackhole next to you doing something stupid and you can’t predict Ben’s earthquake. But what you can do, is take hold of the situation, just get the essentials and make your way to a safe place/aid station.

#4– Steve Buscemi, Mr. Pink, Reservoir Dogs: The scene… well it’s a Quentin Tarantino movie so who knows what point in time it is, but it’s right after the diamond heist, Mr. Blonde shot up the place and now everyone is running away. Mr. Pink has the diamonds and is making his getaway. The cops are in hot pursuit but Pink is determined to get away. He’s running across a street, get’s plowed by a car and knocked to the street. He gets up and keeps on moving (well he carjacks the woman who hit him and then drives away). Watch this scene, now watch it again. Check out Mr. Pink, now that is some determination. Mr. Pink refused to give up (because of death or jail, which are pretty good motivators). That’s the drive one needs when running a race. I don’t want to rob a jewelry store (unless you think I can get away with it) but I want that determination in my races. With it, no Kenyon can stop me.

Mr Larson is telling me that style isn't everything

Mr Larson is telling me that style isn't everything

#3– Mr. Larson, Happy Gilmore: The scene on this one is right after Happy makes his awesome mini-golf-like putt and wins the Green Jacket. Shooter then steals the jacket and runs away. Shooters run is lame, he’d be in the 60’s or 70’s on this list. However, Mr. Larson (Happy’s former foreman who had a nail in his head for half the movie) is having none of Shooters shenanigans and is quickly on the chase. Mr. Larson looks ridiculous (and scary) as he is chasing after Shooter, but eventually he catches Shooter. While I am not a vain man, this is an important reminder that it’s not about looking good, it’s about getting the job done. No matter what I do, I will not look like a graceful runner, in fact after 20 miles I would be happy to look like Mr. Larson; but I need to focus on the task at hand (completing my race) and cross the line ugly.

#2– Bruce Willis, John McClain, Die Hard: The scene is when John is being pursued by Hans Gruber (what a great bad-guy name) and co. Due to John’s situation when the terrorists arrived, he was sans shoes. Hans knew this, so he has his thug, Karl, shot up a bunch of glass walls all around John. Then he (along with Karl) either shoot or throw a grenade or something at John and make him run (with his bare feet) across all of the busted glass they just shot out. Luckily John is one of the baddest of the all-time bad asses so he runs across the glass without a problem. Simple message here, no matter how much pain I am in during a race…. At least I’m not running barefoot across glass while terrorists are shooting at me. It’s not that bad, so sac up and run.

I couldn't find a pic of Ripley running, but she even looks goofy running backwards

I couldn't find a pic of Ripley running, but she even looks goofy running backwards

#1– Sigourney Weaver, Ellen Ripley, Aliens: (possible unfair status of #1, but this is probably my favorite movie of all time) The scene is the last action scene in the whole movie. Ripley, Newt and Bishop were just surprised because a 20-25 ft queen alien is on their ship (Bishop is real surprised since he was ripped in half). Ripley needs to get from where she is to a docking bay so she could put on the power loader and fight the queen alien. So Ripley has a few options, she can stroll to the docking bay, she can crawl, skip, do the worm, but Ripley instead decides to run. And after watching her run, I have no clue how the alien didn’t catch her. It’s ridiculous. It is like someone said to her “I bet you $10 you can’t run with your midsection way out in front and your feet and head way behind.” If that was the case, she won $10. If I ever have a daughter, I’ll watch this movie with her from the time she is 2 or 3, just to make sure she never runs like this. Sometimes the biggest lessons in life are negative reinforcement. That is the case here, it isn’t “run like this, train like this, be this determined”, nope the best movie running lesson of them all is: No matter what you do, never run like Ripley.

So that’s it to my reviews. I can finally run now, so I’ll probably stop watching movies that have running in them and actually run.

Dave and Sitting???

Police sketch of the shin splint that has been terrorizing my legs

Police sketch of the shin splint that has been terrorizing my legs

Dave and Running, more like Dave and Sitting. It official that I’m busted, crunched at the shins. About 10 days ago I went for a nice little 4 mile jog, but instead, I made it about ¾ of a mile before my shin discomfort shot up the pain scale and hit the “Dave, you had best stop before you really injure yourself”. So I quickly walked for the rest of the distance and haven’t run since. I figured 2 weeks of rest should get rid of all of this and let me start back up fresh and pain free. Plus, I still have until the end of this month until I need to begin a 16 week training program. I’m not pleased, but not too nervous yet.

With running out for a few weeks, I needed to find some ways to keep moving towards my goal of completing the Whistlestop Marathon. So I kept working on core work and weight loss. Core work and stretching was easy, I’m pretty sure that is what the Wii Fit was created for. I’m not one to toot my own horn, but during my Wii training, I think I have become the “catch fish while you are in a penguin suit” champion. If Wii translated into marathon training, my fish catching is like running 4/min mile repeats with the Kenyon national team.

The other element is weight loss. Since I can’t run, or do anything that involves my shins (they were even sore after a game a ping pong last week), I have to focus on my food intake. Since that has been a total failure over the years, I needed a new way to be more disciplined. I’m most disciplined when I’m playing poker. I’m focused and know the potential outcomes of every decision I make. In order to have this discipline and make optimal decisions, I use a poker tracking software when I play on line. In this software I can analyze tens of thousands of hands that I have played and look for weaknesses or leaks in my game. Using this method I am well aware and can compensate for problems I have such as overplaying Queens when an over card comes on the turn or river and letting go of premium hands when a flush scare card hits. This information helped me save tons of money.

So using that same philosophy I was looking for some type of metrics for my caloric intake. I saw a few sites that were pretty lame, then Wudchuk showed me http://www.livestrong.com and some section called Daily Plate. The site is awesome. You can enter what you eat and it will give you an unreal amount of feedback. Total daily calories, a break down of proteins, fats and carbs, total #’s if you want to gain or lose weight. Also, unlike other sites that let you enter “oatmeal” and that is it…. On this site, when you enter “oatmeal” it will give you 50 different options of oatmeal so I can enter Krissy’s hippie Country Style Organic Steel Cut Oats, and get the specific corresponding data. Additionally, it lets you enter any of almost a thousand different activities (the first one on the list is 19th Century Dancing, so it’s pretty extensive) and calculate your calories burned too. There are a ridiculous # of things you can do from this site, and it’s totally free. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking to record data on food, exercise or calories.

While this is helping me slowly lose some weight (which should make completing a marathon more likely) I still feel that something else is not right. I was supposed to take some thyroid medicine for a while, but I hate pharmaceuticals and stopped after 30 days. I have an appointment with my doctor (Dr. Pohlman, for anyone in Chicago who is looking for a top notch physician) on Thursday, and hopefully he can help me find some answers.

Thursday happens to also be the day I will begin running again (hopefully). And that is good because I have been a mess without running, and…. Running Warehouse dropped off a big monster box of goodies for Krissy and I on Friday and I want to play with my new toys (by toys I mean shoes, socks, gels, and other things that would cause a kid to kick me in the face for calling them toys).

I checked with the Bellagio sports book, and the new odds for me completing the Whistlestop are 3:4.