Tripple Winner!

Having joined my wife with her doctor’s appointment last Wednesday, she dropped me off and told me to run home. Well, it didn’t exactly work like that, but you get the picture. I stepped out of the car and waved as she drove on down the road, knowing that I would be behind her but not right behind her.

It was a perfect day for a run, and I had every intention of setting a new personal distance beyond the 10 miles I did the week prior. I decided to wear my New Balance Fresh Foams even though I had been shifting more and more to my Nike Free Runs. Having Morton Neuroma in both feet, running has been a challenge of late, and while the Foam’s certainly provided a lot more cushion, I knew they didn’t possess the same room in the toe box.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until around mile 7 that my feet started to complain. I made a brief stop, taking off my shoes, loosening my socks, and rubbing my toes. Lacing back up, even looser this time, I was back on the road until mile 8. At that time, my right foot was in a great deal of pain. Stopping again, I changed my metatarsal pads for both feet, repositioning them slightly back, changed socks, and was soon on the road again. This time, it was enough.

Enough to move past the 10-mile marker, my mind ran through how far I wanted to take this; the distance beginning to take its toll. As my watch struck the 10.1-mile point, I stopped the clock and started walking. As the ache filled my calves, I looked at my Garmin and saw that I had three new trophies. Not only did I have a new long-distance trophy, but I also set new personal records in both my 5K and my 10K times.

Tripple winner!

I Smiled

I just ran my longest run yet on this relaunch of my fitness life.

10 miles.

Slow as heck, but 10 miles nonetheless.

Twice I was slightly hampered by my Morton’s neuroma in my right foot. Twice I pulled off my shoe, pulled back my sock, and massaged the area with my hand in the unfamiliar area of the city. Soon I was back on my feet, running, at least running as fast as a penguin runner can run. Soon the familiar returned. With that came a decision. Go right or go home. I had decided that I wanted to try and make 10 miles this day. Going left would surely give me that opportunity. But the neuroma’s reminder caused me to hesitate. To go left would take me further from home in case I was forced to limp back.

I decided to go right.

To my surprise, I was able to get the 10 miles I wanted, even though I had to run around the neighborhood to get the remaining distance. The problem was that the final two and a half miles were all uphill.

But I made it, passing the 10-mile point on my Garmin before the toll of my accomplishment finally settled on me.

Getting home, I stumbled inside, my calves speaking up loudly at that point. I waved at my wife, telling her that I hit the 10 miles point before hobbling off to my office and my welcoming chair. There I sat, massaging one calve before the next while my right foot shoved around my foot roller, working away the tenderness.

And as I leaned back and connected my Garmin to my computer to pull the data, I smiled.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears…O my feet

O my! I would be dead on the side of the road if I had to run in her shoes.

Well, the great mystery of my socks that I wrote about previously has finally been solved.

There is no problem with my socks.

None of them.

In fact, it only felt as if my socks were bunching up in the crack of my toes. That became clear as the problem persisted, leading to sharp burning pains in my toes and eventually the feeling as I walked that there was a marble in my shoe, at the forefront of my foot.

Great.

Socks would have been a much easier problem to deal with than Morton’s Neuroma. But that doesn’t mean that Morton’s Neuroma is a show-stopper. Now that I know what I am dealing with, at least I have options. And the most immediate and effective option is the use of metatarsal pads to absorb each impact of my steps, distributing the energy to the foot in a manner that avoids the neuroma to a great extent.

The use of these pads has been dramatic.

Then, yesterday.

I was out on a run, looking to do between 6 and 8 miles. It was a perfect November day and I was enjoying every step, until…

It was by now a familiar pain, shooting, sharp, burning…in a familiar location, except this time it was the other foot.

Great.

I stopped at 5 miles, called my wife, and told her the news and that I was going to walk back the rest of the way. And with every step, I could feel that now familiar sensation like a marble or smooth stone was under the forefront of my foot, just like the other.

Both of my feet have Morton’s Neuroma.

The neuromas are a new thing for me. But now that I have had the opportunity to think about it, it is starting to make sense. When I ran before, years back, I lost most of my excess weight prior to running. When I started out, I really didn’t think that a 320-pound man could run, or at least not run without great difficulty, perhaps insurmountable difficulty, and I was certain that the pounding on my knees wouldn’t be able to take it.

This time around, I changed my approach. And while I did not start off at 320 pounds this time (290 is bad enough), I started running as soon as the weather cooled into the seventies. So for the month of September, when I began my fitness journey, my focus was on my food intake and rowing.

My first run came on October 6 and I was by then 280 pounds. Today, I am 259 pounds and I just hit 106 miles this morning. I did it wearing metatarsal pads on BOTH feet. I also donned my New Balance Fresh Foam 680s to run in since they had a thicker cushion than any of my NIKE Free Runs. But I hope to return to the NIKE shoes as they have less drop, are wider in the toe box, and have been my go-to shoes in the past.

Eventually, I am hoping to transition to a barefoot-like shoe. I am convinced, at least as far as I can be without actually running in barefoot shoes, that it will be better for me in the long run. We will see.

But as for my run today, with two Morton’s Neuromas and the metatarsal pads I had no discomfort at all.

But I got off track a little. I was writing about what was starting to make sense to me. As I thought through it, I looked for the similarities and the differences between now, running at 65, and when I was running years ago. As I did, several things jumped out. First, I already mentioned, that I made the decision to start running immediately which meant running heavy. The second thing I realized was that relative to my past running, today I cannot escape running hills. They are everywhere in this part of town.

To give you an idea, on today’s 4-mile run, my Garmin recorded that I ascended 233 feet. Not astronomical I grant you, but uphill. In fact, since I started running on October 6, my total ascension is 1.19 miles up. The hills are adding up.

While people everywhere run hills and most hills are significantly more challenging than what I have surrounding me, they are nonetheless, hills. Throw in my older age, running heavy on hills, and a picture begins to form. While I know that in the long run, continued exposure to running up and down the slopes is good for me, I know that in my new beginning, running heavy and up-hill I find my posture severely compromised as I lean forward, tired, as if to will myself to the top. All the while putting severe stress on my toes and the front of my feet.

Hence the neuromas.

But it is all good. Each and every day I find improvement. While I will never be a threat to any serious runner, I am a runner,

-because I run.

Happy Thanksgiving!

90 Miles and Onward

Since returning to running at age 65, following a 12-year hiatus, on October 6, 2022, I have accumulated 90 miles and feel very good about that. My weight loss journey started a little more than a month before that as I waited for the temperatures to settle into a comfortable range here in southern Nevada. But as of today, I am down 31 pounds with about 60 more to go.

Knowing that I will cross my first 100 miles marker next week has me pretty stoked, even though my pace is still slow and my recoveries long.

There is a Christian rock band, Kutless, that I listen to from time to time. One of their best songs, “What Faith Can Do,” has the following line in its lyrics. It goes like this: It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, impossible is not a word. It’s just a reason for someone not to try.

They are words that frequently cross my mind while I am running. Here I am running again. Here I am accomplishing things that some people have told me are impossible for someone like me…someone at my age and my weight. My own primary care physician told me not to run when I talked to him a couple of years ago about starting up again. He made it clear that running is the worst thing I can do.

No. The worst thing I can do is nothing.

So, on the subject of IMPOSSIBLE, I have included the video from Kutless for you to enjoy.

The Woes of Sock Bunching

It was another beautiful day for running yesterday. It was 57 degrees with a cloud-spotted sky and a touch of a breeze. My initial intention was an 8 or 9-mile run, but getting started late in the day, I decided against it as I had brought anything reflective with me and it was going to be dark before I got home.

I settled for a 7-mile run, though settled isn’t quite accurate.

Unlike my running in years past, I have been struggling with a new problem of late, and it has affected me on several of my runs now. What is happening is that I feel as if my socks are bunching up underneath at the base of my toes. When it happens, it very quickly moves from being a distraction to bothersome. Eventually, I have to stop, pull off my shoes, adjust my socks which don’t appear to have bunched up as they felt, put my shoes back on and lace them up.

It happened twice on the run yesterday, and I began to realize that if I cannot figure out how to solve this problem, I will never be able to achieve my distance goals.

I have tried at least six different styles of socks, from Adidas, Nike, and New Balance. For a moment or two, I thought it might be my new New Balance running shoes, perhaps they were a little too big and roomy. But it has happened with two pairs of my older Nike Free Run shoes as well.

I am missing something and I hope I am able to figure it out soon.

Rearview Mirror

Behind me, not too far back is my start, or more accurately, my restart. It is so close that with a mere glance I can catch sight of it in my rearview mirror.

The step-off did not begin with my foot hesitantly lunging forward down the driveway and onto the street. That came later. Instead, it started with frustrations sprouting from many directions, mental sparring that convinced me that something had to be done. I had done it before, and I can do it again.

The problem was, I was running out of daylight at my age. It had to be now or never, and never just rang hollow for me.

But the decision to jump off the starting line came with the sun still sweltering here in the Vegas Valley, my favorite times of the year governed by temperature, and that was the mid-seventies and down. Any hope of a plunging temperature was still many weeks away, so I turned immediately to my caloric intake and my inherited rowing machine.

There was within my calorie consumption a major hurdle.

I was a latecomer to my coffee love of heavy cream, having spent most of my adult life drinking it black. But when I first indulged in the flavorful richness of cream (heavy, no light stuff for me), it was coffee heaven. And over the years, I drank it with impunity, giving little thought to what it was costing me in terms of an expanding waistline and a heavy hand on my health.

Of course, I still love it today, but I do so with a measured, limited approach. Even at 65, it is never too late to start making better choices.

I realized that my coffee habit was out of control and needed to be severely curtailed if I was going to have any hope of success. So, reluctantly, I put away the cream and started to drink coffee black, a biting, bitter, nostalgic reminder of that old days and I realized, that while I will never give the cream up entirely, for the time being, black would be just fine.

In a note of full disclosure, I have come back to cream in a very limited capacity, brewing each Keurig cup of Italian Roast with the brewer’s smallest drink size and measuring out just enough cream to give me the taste that I desire while managing to keep things under control. (Better than nothing!)

Apart from my heavy cream issue, I selected 1700 calories as my daily allowance, with a focus on better quality food and better choices, even in an environment of rising food costs.

Then, of course, there was the course of physical action I would take, waiting for the Sun to be a little more forgiving. We have in our home, one of the cheapest magnetic rowing machines available. We bought this for my wife who, in the past, found rowing to be a great exercise for her in the past at the gym. But with her own health issues, primarily related to her back, it was pushed to the corner and ignored.

Eyeing this contraption, I set it back up and climbed aboard. It had nothing in terms of bells and whistles, and it was so low to the ground, I immediately understood my wife’s struggle with it. After a little experimentation, including finding the right cadence of songs to listen to, I was soon rowing away contently, working up a sweat, while pulling the oars at 22 strokes per minute.

So my journey back began back in September, with a starting weight of 290 pounds hanging on my 74-inch frame.

But as for my progress, I will not track the details through my posts, only mentioning them here and there. Instead, I will devote to details to a separate page which will be going up very soon.

So enjoy your journey as you read through mine. Many of us have a lot of work to do.

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This

There is nothing like a gorgeous day to drag me outside for a run.

Yesterday, with a hint of a breeze and the temperature hovering in the mid-fifties, how could I refuse the opportunity?

Choosing a new path, I slowly forged a delightful 6 mile run with just enough elevation to remind me how much I enjoy running on flat terrain while educating myself how important running the incline is to my strength, endurance and overall health.

I am continuing to enjoy my New Balance 680s, barely out of the box with only 26 miles of pavement under their treads. My only problem since restarting my running has been some sock related issues, as if balling up in the creases of my toes. I am starting to think that it is related to the tension on my shoe laces. I don’t think the laces are tight enough, lower on the shoes. I will be adjusting that before my next run.

Today, I am taking a day off, giving myself over to rowing instead. But looking outside it is another beautiful day and it is tugging at me.

The Cool Air and Light Rain Called Me

Slipping on my New Balance Fresh Foam 680 shoes that I used for the first time yesterday, and grabbing my gear, I stepped outside into another world, the coldest day of the fall so far here in southern Nevada. I had no plans, no distance in mind, just my running belt, visor, and iPod as I took in the briskness of the breeze and listened to some tunes.

As I headed down the main road, I toyed with the idea of setting a new long run for my resurgent running career, the longest up to this point being 7.2 miles. But it wasn’t until around mile 5 that I made up my mind. Though the majority of the run back home would be uphill, I looked at my Garmin and determined that I could do 8 miles.

I was all the way back to the gate of my neighborhood when my right sock started giving me fits and forcing me to stop and pull off my shoe. Everything looked ok, and my toes were thankful for the momentary break. After a little sock adjustment, I put my shoe back on and headed into the neighborhood, running off the last 1/4 mile I need to make 8.

My calves were not happy, but that is to be expected. A hot shower helped to quell their protest.

All in all, it was a perfect day for a run.

New Shoes

Other than a single pair of Adidas that I once used for Trail Running, I have only run in NIKE shoes. In fact, I currently have three pairs of Nike Free Run all with varying mileage on them. They have all served me well.

But in recognition of my running restart, I jumped off the NIKE bandwagon and purchased a pair of New Balance Fresh Foam 680s. My first run with the New Balance shoes was today, a short test run of 3 miles. If the wind hadn’t been approaching gale force (a bit of exaggeration but still pretty strong), I would have run farther. The shoes felt so good on my run that for a short time all memories of my NIKE experience vanished, not reappearing until I returned home.

If this keeps up, I may have to say goodbye to NIKE forever.

At the End of October

Here I am at the end of October. At my age and with my starting over at running, I have made many considerable changes to how I go about things. One of those is that I am not running every day. Even more shocking, there will be times when I skip two days without running.

And that’s okay!

Just like embracing a slower pace, there is no need for me to run every day, or at least six days a week to accomplish what it is I want to accomplish. And there is no need to push myself, risking injury. Besides, old bones need more time to recover than they used to.

So here we are on October 31, Halloween, and no running today. As I have now officially closed my first month of running after more than a dozen years, I can look back on what I have accomplished and feel pretty good about it. Yes, I am slow. No, there is nothing about my running that resembles anything that a great runner looks like as they spring their way down the road.

And that’s okay, too!

As John Bingham once wrote, “I am a runner because I run.”

My goal was eight miles for my last run of the month, yesterday, heading a couple of hours after church on a Sunday afternoon. I felt good. There was no lingering pain, and I felt rested. The longest run of my first month back at running was 7.2 miles, so 8 seemed reasonable.

The area that I ran pushed me to the edge of town, up against the desert. It was quiet and comfortable, and with my iPod and playlist, I was waddling (or Penguining) along just fine to REM, The Cars, Wang Chung, Duran Duran, and others. I was, following the advice of Wang Chung, having fun (as in Everybody Have Fun Tonight), though my run was a party of one.

I thought for a time that I might be getting some company on my run. There is nothing like a sign warning about rattlesnakes to get your eyes scouring the ground and your mind consumed with them.

Fortunately, the party remained a party of one. No rattlesnakes or coyotes this day.

But eight miles never happened in October (and that’s okay, too.) Though the temperature was comfortable, as the sun fell in the west and began to beat me again on the side of my face, and shoulder, I began to sap whatever endurance, and stamina, I had left, and my run ended at six miles. Switching my Garmin to a walking exercise, I lumbered my way home the rest of the way, grabbing bottled water at a corner market on the way.

So while there has been nothing pretty or awesome about my restarted running experience, I ran. And my total for my first month back in October, was a smidgen over 46 miles. When you add in that my first run back from the brink was on October 6, I’d say, “Not too bad for an old fat man.”