Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cyclocross and another try at running

As I wrote in my last post, I decided my knee needed a break from running, so I haven't run at all since 9/8/11.

I have tried cyclocross racing, and have had fun doing it, although it's been pretty humbling, since I have been at the tail end of the race in all 4 races I have done.  Bike racing is pretty different than running, in that everyone out there is pretty serious.  In truth, my fitness is not very high, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised to be bringing up the rear.  In today's race at Shedd Park in Lowell, I was DFL, although I guess I can say I beat the 7 DNFs.

But I do miss running.  The knee feels OK now, so I think I'm going to again give it a go and see what happens.  Indeed, I entered a Thanksgiving Day race today,  the Fisher Cats 5K in Manchester, NH.   It will no doubt be a bit of a struggle on zero miles of training, but maybe the cycling will help.  I'll post a post-mortum after the race.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

MRI result

I finally got a call about my MRI result yesterday (it was 16 days after it was done).  The news wasn't that good, if about what I expected.

It showed that the grafts on my patella and trochlea are intact, but there was a significant amount of edema under the patellar graft.  One would hope not to see that 4 years out from the surgery, since it suggests that the quality of the cartilage in the graft isn't that good.

 I didn't speak to the surgeon himself, but rather his assistant.  She told me they didn't think I should be doing high impact activities, like running.

The plan is to repeat the MRI in 6 months, and if it looks similar, to consider taking a look arthroscopically to see if the graft is soft.  But I'm not really sure what could be done about that - I didn't think to ask.

So, the return to running is on hold.  Maybe permanently.  However, I think I will continue to update the blog with my progress on other activities.  I will concentrate on cycling, and I am now planning to make a serious attempt to improve my cross country skate skiing over this coming winter.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

MRI postponed

I was supposed to have my knee MRI last week, but I was postponed, a bit to my surprise.

The week before, we were on vacation in the Canadian Rockies, which was wonderful.  We did a Backroads family multi-sport trip, with cycling, hiking and a little rafting.  My knee actually felt OK, but I would add the qualifier that it wasn't all that rigorous, being a family trip.

 Anyway, on the way home, I tweaked my back lifting luggage.  As a consequence, I was taking some ibuprofen.  The MRI needs to be done with intravenous contrast to get a good look at the cartilage.  Very rarely, intravenous contrast can cause serious kidney problems, although this happens almost exclusively in people who already have serious kidney disease.  Medications like ibuprofen can in theory cause kidney dysfunction, although probably not in reasonably healthy people (I think I am in that category).  At the MRI, I had to fill out a fairly long questionnaire, which includes questions about recent ibuprofen use.  Since I had taken some that morning, they cancelled me.  Kind of ridiculous in my opinion.  Fortunately, it's not exactly urgent that I get the scan, and the facility was right on my way to work, so it wasn't as annoying as it could have been.

The knee feels quite a bit better than it did when I first made the doctor's appointment that led to the MRI, but I will still go ahead with the scan this coming week, since I would like to know what's going on in there.  If it looks good, then I think I will feel I can try to up my mileage & see how it goes.  I only ran 23 miles (but cycled 272).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Update - MRI scheduled

I'm overdue for an update.

I saw my orthopedist in mid July, since I was worried about the knee pain I have been having.

He told me he thought it could be the patch over the cartilage graft having come loose & causing trouble.  Or deterioration of the graft (which would obviously be a bad thing).  So, I'm scheduled for an MRI the week after next; it was delayed because of my vacation plans.

While vacationing in northern Michigan, I was pretty active, and the knee didn't feel too bad, so maybe things aren't too bad after all.  But I am interested to know what the MRI will show.

It's kind of a rainy Sunday morning, not very good for riding the bike, so will probably head out for a short run in a bit.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Schofield school 5K

Contrary to my post earlier today, I didn't jog the race with my son, as he ran with my wife.  I ran it myself, although I hesitate to say I raced it.

Warming up, my knee was sore, and I entertained the idea of not running, but figured it would feel better once I was running, and it did.

I finished in 24:22, not my slowest ever 5K, but pretty slow.  Looking back, I ran the same course in 19:39 in 2002.  I did my typical a-bit-too-fast 1st mile, then ran an 8:03 2nd mile over the hilly mile of the course.  From my Garmin .

It was a nice day to run, and the knee didn't really bother me.  I had an average heart rate of 166, so I wasn't taking it easy; just not in very good shape...

knee pain

I am having some issues with pain/stiffness in the knee.  This past weekend (Memorial Day), I went up to Acadia National Park with my family.  Our activities included some hiking, which did not agree with my knee.  I even had a little swelling.  The trails we hiked were steep & rocky, at least in spots.  It was also damp & foggy, making the footing slick.  The hikes weren't all that long, though; only 4 or 5 miles.

I was definitely aware of the knee on 3 short runs I have done this week.

I am signed up to run a 5K later today, but I think I am going to run it with my 11 year-old son, who hasn't ever run a 5K, so I expect not to run very fast (I imagine we will be doing some walking).  That's just as well, since I am pretty sure I couldn't have run very fast given my limited training.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

stress fracture update

I had a quick visit with the orthopedist today.  He did locate a very tender spot on my shin which is where I think one of my osteotomy screws was.  He thought it would be very unusual to develop a stress fracture in that part of the tibia, even with a hole there, as the bone is very strong in that location.  But he told me he couldn't really think of another reason for the pain there.  He advised me to stop running until the tenderness is gone.

He thought an x-ray would be reasonable if the pain persists, but we didn't get one today.

So, it looks like I will be sticking to the bike for a little while.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stress fracture?

Last week, I started to really notice pain in my left leg.  It wasn't the knee, but just below it in the top part of my tibia.  In fact, it felt like it was right about where the screws were from my tibial tubercle osteotomy (which were removed at the end of May, 2010).  By the end of the week, I could really feel the pain while walking, and I started to think it could be a stress fracture.  In hindsight, it had started just after I ran the Shamrock Shuffle race on 3/27.  At this point, I haven't run since 4/2.  On that run, the pain actually seemed to get a bit better as I went, which really wouldn't go with a stress fracture.  Over the weekend, I rode my bike, which did not cause any pain.

There's a thing called the "hop test", which is supposed to be helpful in deciding if a stress fracture is present, and my hop test is negative.  I've arranged for my orthopedic doc to take a look at me tomorrow to see what he thinks, but I'm now not sure sure it really is a stress fracture.  However, I think I will likely skip the BAA 5K this weekend, which I had signed up to run.

Anyway, I'll post an update with the orthopedic doc's thoughts after I see him.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Update - Shamrock Shuffle

This morning, I drove up to Manchester, NH for the 1st annual Shamrock Shuffle, a 2 mile road race that went up Elm Street along the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade (being held 10 days late this year).

I arrived about 40 minutes before race time, found a place to park not too far from the start, and picked up my number with no problems.  I did a short warm up jog, noticing that there was a pretty good headwind that we would have for the first half of the race.  It was cool, just above freezing.  The course was a mile down Elm, then turn around and come back the same way.

I picked out a reasonable place to start, not in front, but not to far back.  The start was uneventful; not too many slow runners in the front.  I felt OK, but not great.  I had ridden about 33 miles on my road bike with a (fit) friend yesterday, and so the legs were perhaps a bit tired.  No pain from the left knee, although it's a little stiff as I am typing this.  The mile to the turnaround seemed longer than a mile to me.  As I approached the turnaround, the fast runners came by on the other side of the street.

The 2nd mile felt a little better than the first, owing to the tailwind.  I had hoped to push the 2nd mile, but found I didn't seem to have the legs or fitness for that, so I just ran at what seemed to be an OK pace.  I finished 156th of about 1200 in 14:12 (7:08/7:04).  I was 14:14 officially, but 14:12 on my Garmin, which I think was more accurate. After the race, I ran into old friend Dave Quintal (1st master today) and jogged a warm down with him, enjoying a bit of a chat.

Overall, an OK effort.  It's the fastest 2 miles I've run since my surgery.  I am registered for the BAA 5K in 3 weeks, so expect that will be my next race.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Skiing in Crested Butte

I have been on a vacation ski trip at Crested Butte this week.  I've been very happy with the way my knee has reacted to the trip.  I've now skied 4 of the last 5 days, and the knee feels fine - no swelling at all.   I have pretty much been doing whatever I want - a fair bit of bumps & steeps, so I haven't gone easy on it.

I had been a little concerned, as my knee had not felt good during a much more modest ski trip last winter.  My guess is that my generally improved leg strength is a factor, and maybe one more year of healing, although I am now at 3 years and 10 months post-op, so not sure if there's really more healing going on at this point.  Whatever the reason, I'm happy about it.

I haven't done any running while I've been here in Colorado, but I figure the break is OK.  The base of the resort is at 9400 feet, so I think I would have found it challenging.  Next week, it will be back to some running; maybe the week at altitude will give me a boost.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Weston Winter Triathlon - race report

I competed in the Weston Winter triathlon this am.  I felt it went better than my winter triathlon debut a few weeks ago at Gunstock, but it was a much easier course.

The weather was quite nice for the event - overcast, mid 20s at the start, with no wind.

The Weston ski track is less than a mile from my house, so no difficulties getting to the start.

I'm not sure how big the field was, but I would guess 70 or so.  We lined up just after the planned start time and were off at 8:05.  The run was 2 laps around the perimeter of the golf course on a groomed ski trial.  I wore my Icebug shoes, which are lightly studded, and those were fine.  There was a short section of the course on a snowshoe trail which was a bit narrower and had some areas of softer snow.  The hills were very mild (especially compared to those at the Gunstock event).  I was mindful of the fact that I was going to be going for an hour and a half or so, so tried to start conservatively.  The run course was supposed to be 5K, but was a bit shorter than that (2.7 on my Garmin).

I made a not-so-speedy transition to the bike.  Since the bike course was the same as the run course (but 3 laps instead of 2), I knew what to expect.  The snow was pretty firm, so traction was good.  The only tricky part was the segment on the snowshoe trail.  On the first lap, there was some congestion there, and I had to clip out a few times, and had trouble getting going again.,  On the second lap, in the same spot, I slid a bit & clipped out, and felt a sharp pain/pull in my right calf, which worried me a bit, but seemed OK when I got pedaling again.  The bike was supposed to be 7.5K, but it was also a bit shorter at 6.5K by my Garmin.

After another slow transition, my skis were on.  This was the part of the race I was most concerned about, as I am not a good skate skier.  The course was 2 laps on a zigzagy course.  The course was well marked, although I almost went the wrong way out of the transition area (helpful volunteers got my attention with shouts).  The ski course was challenging to me, as there were a good number of hills (small ones, but I don't skate well uphill).  Toward the end of the 1st lap, there was a hairpin turn I did not quite negotiate, and I fell.  The fall caused my right calf to cramp/spasm big time.  I lay on my face in the snow for a minute in pretty serious pain, not sure if I'd actually really hurt myself and would have to quit.  I took off my skis and stretched for a moment, and it felt better, so I decided I could continue.  I think I actually skied the 2nd lap a bit better than the 1st.  Ski was supposed to by 6K, and it came in at just over that (6.3K).

Right now, the calf feels OK; hopefully it will fell OK in the am...

Overall, I had fun and will look forward to trying it again next year.

Here's a link to my race data:

weston winter triathlon by djs60 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 Gunstock Winter Triathlon

I tried something new yesterday and competed in the Gunstock Winter Triathlon.  It was tough - much more so than I expected.

I had signed up for the championship course - 4K run, 7K mtn bike, 6K ski.  As the race approached, I had 2nd thoughts about my ski ability, so changed to the "short course", which was 4K run, 3.5 K bike, 3K ski.  Good thing, as I was plenty challenged by the "short course".

The day was cold, with the temp around 15F at the start.  No wind, though, and I really did not feel cold during the race.  I didn't do much of a warm up, but did ride my mountain bike briefly to make sure my seat height was OK.  I had never really ridden on snow before, and my very brief warm up ride showed me it was going to be harder than I thought.

There were about 60 competitors who lined up for the start.  For the run portion, I wore my Icebugs, which are running shoes with spikes.  They did help with traction.  The run course was two loops of about 2K.  It was quite hilly.  There was a guy in front of me who would walk on the really steep parts, but I was moving so slowly I couldn't catch him.

After the run, I changed to mountain bike shoes & shed my sunglasses (I was sweating a lot even with the low temperature).  Since the mountain bike leg followed some of the same trails as the run, I knew it would be tough.  Also, the first couple of bikers had passed me on my 2nd run loop, and even the front guys were having to get off their bikes on the steep parts.  So, my bike loop was really tough.  I think I was off the bike as much as I was on it.

When I came into the transition area, I was really glad I didn't have to do a 2nd lap.  I changed into my ski boots and started the ski leg.  The 1st portion was pretty steeply downhill, which worried me since I am a very bad uphill skate skier.  Sure enough, it was again a hilly loop.  I was stressed out about getting in the way of stronger skiers on the uphills, especially since some areas of the trail were pretty narrow.  There were only a few areas of relatively level trail where I could get a decent rhythm going on the skis.  As I neared the finish, there was a slightly tricky downhill, followed by an uphill into the finish.  Embarrassingly, I managed to fall right there, 50 yards from the finish, and had some trouble getting back up on my skis.

I finished in 1:33:34, which seems to have been 8th of 14 in the "short course".

This am, I am sore from the unusual muscle activity, although my left knee feels only minimally sore (and no swelling).

All in all, I actually enjoyed myself.  I am tentatively planning to try the Weston Winter Triathlon on 2/13, which is a whole lot flater (but there's not "short course" option :-)).  Before then, I have the Super Sunday 5K/10K on my schedule.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Needham New Year's 5K

I ran the Needham New Year's 5K race yesterday.   It was similar to my other races since starting back to running: kind of slow and tough.  I went out too fast, running the 1st mile in 6:52.  My final time was 23:36, which was kind of disappointing.

On review of 2010, I ran a total of 186 miles, so there's a lot of room for improvement there.  On the plus side, I had 36 miles for December, which is my highest monthly total since my surgery in 4/07.  I also rode 2775 miles in 2010. a bit more than in 2009.

I've had a bit of a nagging problem with my right knee (which is the "good" one).  I have pain behind the knee, which I'm assuming is a muscle pull.  It doesn't really bother me when I run, but feels tight/stiff afterward.