Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The End of Preschool

Today I ran my best 5K treadmill time, with an incline on the first mile, which made me feel good since I took last week off from exercising to help my knee heal. Of course, it didn't, so I guess I'll try working it to see if it heals, since not working it didn't help. Anyway, I again worried I'd gained weight and lost fitness, and then I performed just fine. I really should stop doubting myself.

But what I really wanted to write about was that tomorrow is Thumper's last day of preschool. It's been a fulfilling experience for both of us, and he's done better than I could have hoped. I haven't told him that he won't be going back next week, and I'm not sure how that will work out. I'd love to keep him in, and keep getting glowing reports back about his sociability and outstanding language skills, but man, preschool is expensive, and I think we've picked one even more expensive than average. I'm nervous about how I'm going to pick up the academic slack, because I'm lacking in patience, and he's lacking in desire to please me in the same way that he's happy to please his teachers. I understand that this is perfectly normal.

We, all three of us, watched his old videos last night (Thumper mostly talked about that kid in the videos in third person; he knew it was he, but I guess it was hard to really conceptualize as himself), and I'm stunned at how quickly we got here, and how much he's changed in so little time. Many of the dads in my playgroup that have kids the same age or younger than Thumper are now announcing their second pregnancies or second births, and part of me still hurts whenever I hear about other families' joy. But another part of me knows that it's already a stretch financially for us with just one child, and it's already a stretch for my patience and my abilities to be a good dad. One child is best for us, but the time is going so fast. Many people have told me how wonderful it is that I get to spend this time with him and that we'll both treasure these years for the rest of our lives, but it's just flying along so quickly. My baby boy will (probably, if we decide he's ready, and his preschool experience makes me think, yes, he'll be ready) be in kindergarten in 2012. And I swear, he was just a minute ago talking about his boo oddypop.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Me and the Knee

Warrior Dash was a blast, again. I'm not sure I can articulate why; it's partly the crowd, which has huge variations in age and physical ability, and partly the course, which has obstacles of different degrees of difficulty. It's just fun to run, and fun to hang out after, watching the crowd and its costumes while listening to the music, watching the people dance, and drinking a few celebratory beers

I got down on myself in the days before the race and decided I was going to fail miserably. Then I performed better than I expected, as usually happens when I get down on myself. I didn't meet the 32-minute goal I set after the last time I ran it, but I came pretty close. I ran the entire way without walking and finished at just over 34 minutes. I ran it with Biggest Brother again, and this time I didn't feel like he was holding himself back to stay with me. In fact, I think I might have impressed him with my performance a little bit. Making your big brother say, "Wow, that was great!" is something every little brother wants to do. I'm proud of him, too, since he managed to make the guy with the top time for men 40-44 scoff when he told him what age group he was part of and declare, "I'm on the 10-year plan to be like you!" It was just a great time all around. I love that my brother is a youthful, active, athletic man who wants to do these things with me.

I still don't know what to do about the knee, though. Maybe the knee pain is just a physical manifestation of my lack of motivation and boredom with running. The knee felt better after Warrior Dash than I feared it would, but the next day, it was sore again. I skipped workouts all week to give it a chance to heal, then Saturday I stepped off a curb that was higher than I expected, landing awkwardly, wrenching it again, and putting myself right back where I was at the start of the week. Today, I returned to the gym since I have The Bun Run coming up this weekend. I tried an elliptical instead of the treadmill, hoping a "no impact" workout would help, but I couldn't make it work. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, or maybe I'm too tall with too long a stride, but it just didn't feel right. It felt like I was trying to run while staying a good foot or more shorter than I actually am, putting a huge strain on my thighs. So I returned to the treadmill. I walked, instead of running, at the steepest incline and fastest pace I could manage. Then I did weights. Maybe the squats were a bad idea.

So, I don't know. I hear about Brandon Roy and his cartilage-less knees and I think, "Maybe I'm grinding bone on bone after years of my weight putting extreme stress on my knees." Or maybe I'm arthritic. And what am I going to do, and how am I going to find my motivation, if it's not as a runner finding 10Ks and 5Ks and obstacle courses for which I must train?

But more or less, I think I'll find something. My weight loss has stalled at 240 pounds, but I think I can ride it out until I can make it start falling again. Aerie walked in on me naked, getting dressed after a shower, and asked me if I am lighter than I've ever been. No, but I'm 7 pounds short of the lightest I've been in two years, which was lighter than I'd been for 10 or 15 years before that. Considering the fact that I met her when I was around 200 pounds, I'll gratefully take "are you lighter than you've ever been?" Maybe I'll keep running, or maybe I'll start riding my bike more, or maybe swimming laps at the neighborhood pool. But my diet has greatly improved, and athletic performance (such as it is for an overweight 39-year-old) has become important to me. I think I'll keep on keeping on. Or keep on hobbling on.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


My weight loss has stalled, my running performance has plateaued, my knee refuses to heal, my lungs are full of glue, and my motivation is waning. I'm 2 days away from Warrior Dash, and there's no way in hell I'm going to meet my overly-ambitious 32-minute goal. My past three workouts have been a disaster, with my energy level in the toilet (maybe I should try going to bed before midnight) and my heart rate inexplicably at a surprisingly high 169 today, which is way outside of what the chart on the gym wall says it should be at the ripe old age of nearly 40. I don't know if the Paleo Diet is letting me down, or if I'm not doing it right, eating too many fruits and not enough vegetables, or if Paleo's a crock and I should chow down on some pasta tomorrow night. It has not, as I thought it might, made a difference with my lungs or with my skin. My knee still hurts and never heals because I keep running on it. When I try to remember my Chi Running fundamentals, my knee bothers me less, but still, it hurts during and after a run.

Maybe I need to start riding my bike more instead.

Oh yeah, I did remember that this summer (July specifically) will mark my 5-year anniversary of quitting smoking, which is a year longer than I made it the previous time I quit smoking. Hooray, me!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Running on Empty, and with a Sore Knee

I ran the Austin American-Statesman Capitol 10K last Sunday, along with 23,000 other people. I thought, since I ran 1:01:44 at the Longhorn Run last year, and since I ran a 56:04 10K on the treadmill, that I would blow my best time for an official 10K out of the water, so when I posted a time just a little less than one minute faster than my Longhorn Run time, I was disappointed in myself. The official photographers of the event quickly posted their photos, searchable by bib number or name, and looking at the pictures of me, I felt old. And fat. And though I've been running and training with nary a sign of knee pain or other injuries, the week before the race, I twisted my knee playing soccer with Thumper and his best pal, and by the end of the race I was downright hobbling.

So I took the week after the race off from exercising to give my knee a chance to recover, and I thought about whether I'm really a runner. I became morose and maybe a little pissy, thinking that I'm not going to meet my fitness and weight loss goals and I'm a terrible father who yells at his kid too much and I haven't kept up with the 100 push ups and I haven't even started the 200 sit ups and there are no solutions to ongoing family problems and I'm constitutionally incapable of keeping a clean house and there's no possible way I'll meet my copywriting deadline and nobody loves me everybody hates me I think I'll go eat worms.

And then I picked up Thumper from preschool and the teacher gave me a daily report that was glowing about his social and verbal skills. And then I went to the gym, ran on a steeper incline with only a slightly slower time than my last 5K workout, and I'd only gained a pound over my last weigh in. Suddenly I don't feel quite like I've totally blown it, though I'm not sure what to do about the knee. And I still have to finish 40 more of those stupid product descriptions in the next 24 hours.
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