Minor Amusements

9-28-13 LeAnn & AddisonSunday, 29 September 2013

Well, today was the Berlin Marathon.  My friends, Patty and Chris ran it.  A new world’s record was set.  The weather was perfect.  The pictures are gorgeous.

I slept in.  I hardly, hardly ever get to do that.  Clear to 8:30, although I did have to pet the cat for awhile sometime before that (I didn’t look at the clock).  I had nothing at all in particular to do today, and that’s what I did.  Changed the bed.  Did a load of laundry.  Went to the bead store for a specific kind of bead.  Played in the beads for awhile.  Going to bed late.  (What have I been doing.)

I wanted to write about swimming yesterday.  I wore my new butt-ugly, but functional suit — and  it is VERY functional.  Worked really well.  Standing in the shower after swimming I was a lot more pleased with it than I had been standing in my bedroom in front of a mirror — very likely the absence of the mirror helped.  I was standing under the water, reading the tags in the swim suit — this one has an extra tab in it that says “Name_____________________”.  How cute is that.  Like maybe women (?) will be going to camp and need to label their gear?  I have no idea.

I swam more, at one time, yesterday than probably ever before.  8 warm-up laps doing the drills I’m supposed to do.  And 20 laps practicing having my hands meet at the top of the stroke.  It’s hard to keep track of how many laps I’ve done, so I was taking off a bracelet and laying on the deck every other lap — first I took them off one at a time.  And then I put them back on one at a time.  The warm up laps don’t really count because I’m just doing one little movement in each one.  Well, maybe for kicking they count.  I timed the 20 laps, but there are significant stops along the way.  (Not as many as before I had a lesson, but stops none-the-less.)  I was only wearing four bracelets and a watch.  In future, I’ll have to wear more bracelets.

When I got into the pool yesterday there was a drowned bee floating in the water, so I scooped it onto the deck so it wouldn’t be floating around me.  When I finished the laps, the bee had revived and was making a stab at getting going again.  I stood in the pool and watched that bee for a really, really long time (like 20 minutes).  First it drug itself around with just its front legs.  Eventually the middle legs got going.  Then the back legs dried off enough to work.  Then it had to walk around for a long long time until its wings dried off enough to un-stick from its body.  Then with its wings out it walked around, perilously close the the lip of the pool, but apparently the feet are sticky or something so it could go over the round lip.  When it seemed just on the verge of flight – the damn thing fell back in the pool.  I scooped it out again, but didn’t wait to see what happened next.  Don’t mess with Darwin.

I’m going into week 2 of the 3-week whole body cleanse.  This is the difficult week — at the end of the week there are two days of total juice fast.  But it’s only two days — and they’re Saturday and Sunday.

Speaking of that, I stopped at Robeck’s today sorta for lunch.  I had a juice drink that had kale (3 leafs with stalks), spinach (a handful), apple (2), and celery (3 stalks).  for $5.  That is no where near the cost of the produce used — which if organic might cost $1.  I was trying to rationalize the convenience of not having to drag out the juicer, etc., etc.  What an amazing amount of money to spend on something you drink.  Another first world story.

Kids that I know came to Sole Runners on Saturday.


Buying a Swim Suit

swim suit 2Thursday, 25 September 2013

I bought new swim suits last week for my new adventure in swimming.  They were delivered yesterday and I put them on today.  One style is so ugly (and functional) that Lands’ End doesn’t even bother to put it on a model.  It’s laying on some flat surface amongst 800 pictures of women wearing swim suits of all descriptions.  And I bought two of these butt-ugly, functional suits.  One black, one navy.  There is NOTHING to recommend them except they are functional, and if you’re swimming laps at night, who cares?

There is NOTHING like buying a new swim suit to make you shudder.  (Every woman on earth, regardless of age, size, or shape will say the same thing.)  However, in putting on a whole bunch of swim wear in the last couple of weeks, virtually everything makes me shudder.  Actually, that’s not true.  The flippy skirt thing I wore the other day is actually pretty cute, all things considered.  But stupid to swim in.  And I have a long-sleeve rash guard that fits.  But again, too much to swim in.  And a short sleeve rash guard that I don’t hate.  (“Rash Guard” being French for “loose t-shirt made out of swimming suit material”.)  And I have 3 pair of board shorts (which is over the top amazing given that I haven’t been in a pool in a year or more before last week) that are OK.

Let me digress.  This is appropro of nothing…On Monday, at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center (where Diana Nyad trains and pees in the pool), as I was coming out of the shower there was this tall, broad-shouldered, VERY tan, brunette, young woman in a florescent swim suit that seemed more strappy than serious, putting sun screen on all over her body.  She was a knock-out.  (I happen to peek out the door and saw her pausing/posing on the pool edge in cap, goggles, and all that tan-ness.)

But for this lap thing, I needed a real tank suit.   So I ordered from Lands’ End.  I cannot even begin to describe the sadness of the entire thing…but I can start with I’m not ever all over tan.  I have a runner’s tan.  So I have 9 inches of white thigh, and then I’m tan.  It sorta goes down hill from there.

Swim Suit

On the positive side (major stretch)…I had a major light bulb moment today.  And I think it had something to do with the swim suit.  Or I was thinking about the horrific swim suit experiences to come.

It’s true that I look lots better these days than I did 10 years ago.  But I look a lot worse than I did 25 pounds ago.  And I’ve been letting that extra weight just hang around.  I complain about it, but I haven’t really done anything about it.  It think it was looking at me in the new swim suit to make me realize, “no, it’s not ok”.  (Oh, and by the way, the flat tank suit has absolute no inside support, so I’m completely without shape of any size — other than pear or round.)  And thinking about that I have a thought about my inflamed bursa…I weigh too much to be doing what I’ve been doing.  There may be other muscular imbalances, but I’m big into messages from the Universe, and I’ve decided this is just that.  Something not too serious “breaking” to get my attention.

swim suit 3

Luckily for my attention span, I’ve just started Allen Arnette’s semi-annual 21-day whole-body cleanse.  Which is always a good kick-start weight wise.  And I’m going to go meet with Dr. Michael Day after the cleans (actually as the cleans is coming to a close) to work with him on HIS 21-day program of clean eating.  (There’s a man I know who has completely transformed his body using Day’s diet.  It’s stunning.)  The Day plan is you take out everything that people are allergic to and add components back in one at a time to determine your reaction.  I’m doing Day’s diet to get off corn (I’m already gluten free and virtually dairy free).

So maybe this is a nice collision of need for change and change under way.

I also purchased the suit displayed on the model above.  And it is wildly more flattering that the flat-on-the-table tank.  Although I still have runner’s tan lines


Swimming, day 2

swimming poolTuesday, 24 September 2013

Just when I’ve written all anyone can stand about a single topic (running), I go and start learning something else.

Today I walked 3 miles — which frankly just takes forever — and went swimming.

I cannot walk much faster than a 17-minute mile — which means it takes more than an hour to go 4 miles.  And really 3 miles really takes an hour what with stop lights, etc.  At the beach, on the flat bike path, I can go faster.  But then you have to factor in the drive down there.  Today I walked the neighborhood, which I love, between 5 and 6.  The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold.  I walked backwards of my regular route, so I could stop at the Walgreen’s on the way home and buy cream rinse for the swimming.  I’ve been running this route since 2007 — and I believe this is the first time I’ve done it backwards.

Last Sunday I did a hilly 5K in 55 minutes.  Last Tuesday I did just 3 miles in 50 minutes.  But today, through a neighborhood with 1 stop it took over an hour.  Now seriously, what else do I have to do?  Nothing.  But still, it feels like moving through molasses.  Even tho’ I’m a slow runner, I now run at least 5 minutes per mile faster than this — which is a heck of a lot.  (OMG!  This is the time difference between my and the coach’s running speeds.  Gack!  The man is a saint.)

Anyway, armed with my new cheep-o cream rinse, I went off to swim some laps at the JCC pool.  I got there at 7.  I did two laps (each lap being 25 yards) of 4 drills…(1) on my back, head back, one arm extended, (2) 3/4 body with one arm extended, (3) zipping up stroke underwater breathing on both sides, and (4) full stroke.  That’s all I could remember.  And then I did 3 or 4 sets of two laps with full stroke.  I tried holding a bracelet in one hand and then bringing the other hand to it — but that was too annoying.  I don’t know which component to concentrate on.  Elbows, fingers across the water, rolling, what.  I’ll find out tomorrow.  I will say this, the lesson yesterday significantly impacted the effort — it’s light years easier.  And the cream rinse under the cap — which is supposed to help protect the hair color — makes the after-swim comb out lots easier.

And I have got to do something about the water behind my ear drums.  When I was a little kid I wore a nose plug.  Which is probably illegal.  (And how will you blow out the air if you’re wearing a nose plug?)  But for at last an hour after getting out of the water my head felt funny.  This may be a problem.

But, in the end, my injury (not really my leg, not really my butt) hurt.  I tried using the floaty tool, which I totally don’t get how to use.  It really cuts down on the body roll, which cannot be good.  So I quit for the day.   And I was wearing the wrong thing (a long sleeve rash guard) and all that fabric got in the way.

At the end I was swimming in the dark.  If I can get used to it, it’s just time.

About once a day this happens…this morning I was hosing down a syrup spill in the garage and I slipped a little on the cement.  I jerked into control and really hurt that injured spot.  Then walking on the pool deck I slipped a little again.  I don’t know how to avoid those little thing.  While I was walking in the neighborhood, I was super careful not to step abruptly off the curb or do anything jarring that would make my leg (OK, I’ll call it my leg) hurt.  But something happens every day to jostle/startle the injury.



IMG_0583[1]Monday, 23 September 2013

So today’s the day the trip to Berlin was to have started.  It was fall-like in the morning in LA, warming up to 94 degrees in the afternoon.  I’m a lot more OK with not going to Berlin that the opening would suggest.

I went and saw the ortho guy today.  As he was coming into the examining room, the radiologist was relaying his findings from the MRI done last Friday, “Its severe bursitis, but no tumor”.

This is EXACTLY why I didn’t look on the internet.  It never occurred to me that it was a tumor.

Me and the doc looked at the MRI pictures, and saw the area (about 3-4 inches) of inflammation with a lot of fluid (according to him).  He pointed out that it’s been 2 weeks (and 3 days) since I first saw him — and I am much better.  There is only pain when I do something thoughtless.  But every day walking around – no pain.  He said I should wait two more weeks and then if its not continuing to get better, he’d consider injected strong inflammatory into the area (which I think is French for cortisone shot) — which I’m not going to do.  I was surprized that there was no diagnosis of physical therapy.  In the long run, there is likely an imbalance between the muscles moving that leg around and can I strengthen those muscles?


By the way, let this be a lesson to us all.  If you leave people alone, they will take pictures of what evers around.

Anyway, I left the office, only to see I’d accidentally stolen a magazine on cycling.  100 pages of technology I know nothing about.  (I had earlier ripped out a page that had gear shifting cheat sheet for beginners.)

At noon I had a swimming lesson.  (Tank suit to swim laps in is in route.  Flippy skirt is just for the moment.)  It was really amusing.  When directed to do something the length of the 25 meter lane, I invariably wandered from side to side in the lane, while moving forward.  The Coach had to swim around me in the lane.  The drills were hard to do…hard to conceptualize what I was supposed to be doing.  But when I eventually got to putting the whole stroke together, it is way easier to breathe.  There was a point, tho, at the end, that about 10-15 feet from the wall of one lap I just ran out of everything — air, oomph, energy, everything.  Of course I was on the far side of the pool at that point, so I had to swim at least another 25 meters.

There was one point that the coach said, OK, let’s go again, and I was thunderstruck — aren’t we going to rest a little longer.  I actually think that’s the lap that I pooped out during.

We two decided that swimming can be the same cardio challenge that running is…and there’s a little device (I forget the name) that you can put between your knees, so it becomes entirely an upper body workout (actually, it was really hard to do today, it’s really floaty, but I assume it gets easier).  And, I can spend as much time in the pool as I want to.

There are two huge pools at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center.  One is roped into lanes the short way — 25 meter lanes.  The other is roped into lanes the long way — 50 meter lanes.  The Coach said “I want to get us into this pool”.  I had to just look and think “really?”  But I’ve thought and said that before, so I’m sure there’s a day coming when I’m swimming in the big pool.

The only pain today associated with swimming was (1) when I ran out of everything (above), I did the breast stroke over to the wall and that kick hurts and (2) I used the wrong leg to push off of the ladder getting out the pool, and that hurt.

And then I went to see Lisa Fills.  She said I looked like I just came from the pool.  It had been alike 4 hours, but yes, I have been in a pool today.  Lisa made me talk about what about missing the Marine Corps Marathon makes me sad.  I don’t know, but it does.  I have no particular tie to that race — I think it’s the fear of not doing races again.  (I mean, what do I know about severe bursitis?)  She’s worth every penny.  She said “of course you will be running again”.  I wonder if I worry at some level that I won’t be able to.  Have (has?) there been two weeks since 2007 that I didn’t run at all.  Surely so, I just can’t remember them.  There have not been, probably, 4 weeks I didn’t run.  And there haven’t been 4 weeks I was swimming.  So we’ll see.


Stopped in the Middle of a Swim Lane…

9-21-13 Weekend BursaFriday, 20 September 2013

Isn’t it amazing what we don’t know about this body we’re walking around in.  Last week I had an MRI done of what is thought to be an inflamed  ischiogluteal bursa — on the sits bone.  The ortho doctor called to tell me “there’s a dark spot on the MRI.  it could be a blood clot, it could be something else, it could be nothing.”  What in the heck is a blood clot, now that I might have one.  (I’m not looking on the internet.  I don’t what to know all the bad things it could be.)  In my head a blood clot is a little clump of blood cells in the vein.  And sometimes a little bit of the clot breaks off and travels to the heart and causes a heart attack.  And other times a blood clot in the brain causes a stroke.

Clearly, that elementary high school biology back in the dark ages isn’t giving me the in-depth background I need for today’s needs.  I wonder if I need to go to medical school next?  (Or nursing?)  (Or just take a biology class.  Which would be the easiest — as long as there are no frogs to dissect and as long as Terry Tierney is not my lab partner.  Terry made me clean out the stinky over-Xmas-break experiment when we were in high school.)

So I went over and had the second MRI done this morning.  First they put me into the machine and took a picture “plain”.  Then they injected dye into me (although the stuff was clear in the glass bottle) and took more pictures.  I have an appointment Monday AM at 8:15 to have the doc tell me what’s what.  I’m hoping there’s some Physical Therapy and continued rest.

Next, in between answering questions, etc. at work (I’m off today), I went swimming.  I tried to incorporate input from Mike Henderson and Coach Steve.  (I never change just 1 thing at a time.)

I have been swimming out-back-rest.  Occasionally, I swim out-back-out-back-rest.  But that is the stretch goal.  (Yeah, yeah, I’ll get better.)  And I have to have a long rest after that.  Mike suggested that I swim out-back-out-rest.  So add 1 25-yard lap instead of two.  I did that today.   I managed to do all my laps in threes.  (I’m officially switching from counting out-back 50 yards as a lap — going to just counting each 25-yard lap.)  AND, I did 18 laps.  Two more than I’ve done before.  18 laps is 450 yards which is 1,350 feet which is 1/4 mile.  With 5 rests in 18 laps instead of 5 rests in 16 laps.  Who knows if that’s good or not.  I think I’m building endurance.  I do know that when resting on the side of the pool I was seriously panting, which I think indicates elevated heart rate.

I tried Coach Steve’s breathing technique.  I have been blowing out the air while my face is underwater so I’m empty when I turn my head to breathe.  The Coach says hold the air in for added buoyancy.  I can see that.  To today I tried that.  In the end, I had to consciously count strokes and blow the air out during the third stroke, rather than a big push-out of air right before the breath.  As I found in running, and these days in walking — I tend to push against the count, when if I can relax into the count the whole thing is easier.

So I’m counting along, in the very last lap for the day, when the thought came into my head, “I’m spending an hour in the pool with the Coach?”  The thought was so shocking I stopped swimming and stood up.  I can’t do this for an hour.  Yet.  I re-gathered my wits and finished the lap.  Hopefully there will be some resting…but knowing him, not much.

Then I went to see Allen Arnette who has taken more biology than me.  He explained that the “blood clot” could be a pooling of blood in the bursa or the tendon, or in the capillaries that web through all the tissues and organs and carry the nutrients to the body.  I sorta remember how that works.  He was completely nonplussed by the “blood clot, nothing, or something in between”.  He suggested physical therapy and rest would be prescribed.

Went to Costco and bought watermelon for tomorrow and licorice.  Ate Chinese food.  Came home and loaded the car for tomorrow.  Getting up at 4:30 for 6 AM start (and happy to be able to do it!!)



Stroll & Savor in Belmont Shore

IMG_0547[1]Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I have a personal trainer who is a god.  I don’t know how long I’ve been going to Mike Henderson — but more than a decade.  The first time I went to see him I was so crippled up with sciatica that I could not walk upstairs to the gym; I had to take the elevator.  For much of the first year or so that I went to him I did nothing but work on back strength to escape the pain.  And while he had me on rollers, exercise balls, benches, etc. he would talk to me — about the possibility of taking a walk, about what food portions look like on a plate, about nutrition..  After about a year or so I finally said to him, “Look, I’m NEVER taking a walk.  Quit talking about it.”

I could ramble on about Mike for pages and pages.  He’s amazing.  He never did stop talking to me about the possibility of taking a walk and one day I finally did.  He’s the guy who helped me get started running.  (Run a block and walk a block.  I could not believe I was expected to be able to run a whole block.)

Today as I was working out we were talking about swimming distances.  The pool at the JCC is 25 meters long.  I count a lap as out and back.  That’s 50 yards.  I can currently swim 8 50-yard laps, resting inbetween.  (I was asking my running coach what I should be doing in the pool — fast or distance — and his answer was “first you have to learn how to swim”.  He’s right in some sense — he will be better at this than I am.  But in the mean time, let’s call that arm and leg movement thing I’m doing swimming.  Just humor me.)  Mike suggested that instead of trying to swim 100 yards without stopping, that I try and swim 75 yards without stopping.  Duh.  Baby steps for swimmers.

8.5 50-yard laps — or 17 25-yard laps — depending on how one chooses to count it — is 1/4 mile.  I can swim 1/4 mile.  (Yeah, yeah, not without stopping in between the laps — but still.)

I’ve ordered swim suits from Lands’ End.  They should be here next week.  I have my first official triathlon swimming lesson on Monday.  Look at me, I’m expanding my horizons.  (No, I cannot sit on a bike seat yet.  One thing at a time.)

And speaking of one thing…I go for the second MRI on Friday.  It will take an hour.  Which means next Monday or Tuesday (when I was supposed to be flying to Germany), I will get the diagnosis for whatever this is.  And the prescription for treatment.  It’s a damn good thing that I was able to let go of that race.  I would be frantic trying to get this thing solved if I was still trying to make the race.  Yesterday I got the hotel cancelled.  And I cancelled the flight to Austin (where I was meeting a friend to start the trek to Germany), but kept the reservation as a “ticket” instead of paying $150 to put the miles back into my account.  I’ll likely go to Austin again.  And I told my bosses that I would be working next week.

I have this friend who is 5.  Tonight my friend and I spent time together while his mom and dad went to Open House at the kindergarten school.  My friend and I went to Stroll and Savor in Belmont Shore — actually he lead the way and I followed.  You buy a book of tickets for $10 — 12 tickets — and restaurants on 2nd Street serve varying size portions of 1 or 2 things in exchange for tickets.  I always assumed they would be little bites.  I’ve never done this before.   The portion sizes vary — but generally speaking they are a LOT more generous than you would assume.  We walked up to the yogurt shop, where he had mango yogurt with gummie bears on top (“I love mango”, says he of the sophisticated palate.)  Then we walked the other way and had Thai food.  And then bought a dessert for his mom and had to go home to put it in the freezer for her.  And then we went back to the house and played until Mom and Dad came home.

I LOVE seeing the kid starting out in the educational system.   I now see that when you start school is when you become tied to the calendar week as more than a vague concept.  Never again will the kindergartner get to do anything all morning (or for an hour) because it’s interesting.  And he was repeating the school rules.  Rule #1, follow all directions quickly.  Rule #2, raise your hand for permission to speak.  Rule #3, Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.  Rule #4 I forget, Rule #5, be kind to your teacher.  Do you not love rule #5?  My friend was telling me that his teacher (Mrs. K) has glasses and so I.

Although right this second I don’t know where my clear glasses are.  I had to drive home in the dark wearing sunglasses.

In the end, due to schedule constraints, I did not swim today (regardless of what others might call it when I move my arms and legs and move through the water).  I lifted weights with Mike.

Walking and Swimming

IMG_0572[1]Tuesday, 17 September 2013

So, I’m not even taking time off this month.  I can’t get up any gumption to pack to go anywhere.  (Even tho’ I’d very much like to see my friend Barbara in South Carolina.)  I like where I work (my living room).  And I can use the vacation time some other time.

No matter what I look like on the outside, I’m moping around inside.

Today I went and swam 8 laps – 400 meters (how far is that, anyway?).  It was weird, I felt like I couldn’t get enough breath in.  Then I went to hill intervals at the beach.  The runners did a 1 or 2-mile warm up run and then ran hills.  I went out and walked 3 miles in the same time they did all that other stuff.  I cannot walk faster than 16 or 17 minute miles.

After the runners were done, the coach and I talked about swimming for a little while.  I was trying to get a feel for what I should be doing in the pool.  He says to me “I have to teach you to swim”.  Hummm.  What exactly was I doing out there with my arms moving?  So I says, “let’s assume I can swim”.  And he says, can you breathe on both sides.  Yes.  I know he doesn’t believe me.  You gotta love that in the guy.  However he did talk about breathing and in his world, one holds on to the breath until just before the next breath, allowing the air in the lungs to contribute to buoyancy.  Interesting.  I have been taught to blow it out during the stroke so you’re empty when the next breath comes along.

The deal is, the moping around, I am angry about losing my fitness level.  However, apparently there are swimming drills (and this surprizes me how) that one can do.  So I could swim with him once a week and then work in the JCC pool 3-4 days a week.

This makes me smile.  Instead of piles of sweaty stretchy clothes waiting to be laundered, now there are soaking wet piles of stretchy clothes waiting to be laundered.  And wet towels.

Big news. I got a bonus from work.  For wrestling a project to completion; sorta the last man standing award.  Anyway, after taxes and such it will buy 1/3 or 1/4 of a road bike.  When I can sit on one, which I cannot do now.