Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today's run 3/31/09

Oh boy! What a run today! I started out with my right ankle hurting and ended with it hurting more. Other than that my legs felt good. I was hoping for another 2 hour run today using the 5 minute run/ 1 minute walk method, but even before I started my right ankle was already in pain. Must have been that unintended 5k effort, 15 minute portion of a run with Gavin last Saturday morning. I was planning on taking it easy that day since we were running with a beginners running group and I had already done a sort of speedwork two days prior. I did a 15 minute warm-up by myself, then ran with the group very slowly for about 15 to 20 minutes, then Gavin ran with me to a house where I delivered a letter. Well Gavin is almost 20 years younger than me and even though he was pushing a baby jogger with his two children in it, he is still way much faster than me. I was really hauling butt and at the edge of oxygen debt for that 15 minute portion that I was trying to keep up with him. After reaching the house where I delivered the letter, Gavin asked if I wanted to continue along another route to get back to where we started from and I had to decline. That was the hardest pace I had run since last summer before my ankle got worst. So I just turned around and ran back slowly to recover from the unplanned speedwork. I think that 15 minute portion kinda overstretched my ankle tendon a bit and as of today it had not fully recovered. I didn't think I could finish 2 hours today so I aimed for something lesser. I was thinking that 1½ hours would be good enough. I just ran around the neighborhood, circling loops and crisscrossing streets. Even saw my co-worker at a park playing with his kids and said hello to them. I eventually ended up with a total of 1 hour and 50 minutes. Pretty close to my original goal and at a way faster pace than my 2 hour run a week and a half ago. That was the upside, and the downside is that my ankle hurts a lot. I'll keep icing it all day today, take a couple of aspirin and take about two days off from running. Please excuse me while I go and do my third icing for the day.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Zen of Pain

When you have been running for awhile, eventually you would suffer some sort of injury. It could be the knee, iliotibial band, hamstring, piriformis, calf, ankle, tibial tendon, Achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis, heel spur or Morton’s neuroma. In the past, whenever an injury struck, I would deal with it with what I considered the “Zen of Pain”. This is how I describe it: Be one with the pain. This means that while I’m running, if I accept pain and become one with it, I will eventually not be in pain anymore, and I can continue running painlessly. Of course the endorphins had a lot to do with that. Eventually the body heals itself and the injury disappears. Well that used to work very well when I was younger and was able to heal faster. Being able to deal with injuries that way was what enabled me to run every day for more than 21 years despite being biomechanically inefficient. The pain I have now is not the kind that disappears no matter how much I try to become one with it. It just gets worst the longer I run. So what happened then? Age caught up with the inefficiencies of my natural stride. This is something I am learning to accept and unfortunately never to Zen forevermore.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Today's Long Run

Happiness is ...

having an unexpectedly good run today. Considering that I had a twinge of pain on my left knee and right ankle last night and felt mentally unready upon waking up this morning because I couldn't even decide which way to go today. I never know how my run is going to turn out until I take the first few steps and monitor how my legs and my breathing feels. Today, I decided to do the 5 minute run/ 1 minute walk intervals again and try to do it for at least an hour and a half. My legs and breathing felt pretty good at the start, even felt light and bouncy because I deliberately tried to run easily. So far no knee or ankle pain at the start so I just rolled with the good feeling. I kept going on this one long street not even knowing when I was going to turn around because I felt so good. I ran past a park where there were a lot of children playing soccer, boy's T-ball baseball, and girls softball. They looked like they were about 5 to 10 year old kids. So cute with their tiny uniforms. Moms and dads supporting and cheering for them. Some giving last minute instructions. One mom was playing catch with her daughter and another playing whiffle ball. So that part of the run felt good because there were a lot of things to see that distracted me. A few more blocks down the road, I finally decided to turn around because that would have given me a 2 hour run if I made it back home, which was more than what I had intended to do. I went down another street on the way back home, my pace and stride still feeling good, but at about the 1 ½ hour point, my form was starting to deteriorate. To make matters worse, my GPS watch froze after I paused it at a stop light then tried to start it up again. See, the GPS watch beeps when the 5 minute run portion ends and I do the 1 minute walk, then beeps again after the minute is up to signal me to start another 5 minutes of running. When it froze, I had to guesstimate how many minutes more I had to run and when I can start walking again. When that interval ended, I still had 12 minutes to go to finish 2 hours. So I pulled out my cellphone, switched it to stopwatch mode then completed the run. I think next time, I should also bring my regular watch along in case the GPS freezes again. When I got home I managed to unfreeze the GPS by mounting it on its charger. Then I had to extrapolate from the data up to the point where it froze, the additional last 12 minutes of the whole run. Not really hard to do with a running pace calculator. The total mileage for the 2 hour run/walk was 11.70 miles at a pace of 10 minutes and 15 seconds per mile. Felt quite good and satisfying. I don't know where I got the energy to finish the run today. Must have been the Skittles jellybeans I overdosed on yesterday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Concussion of Two Months Ago

It's kinda scary to think what could have happened to me after falling in the bathtub and hitting my head a couple of months ago. See blog entries:

http://noeldlp.blogspot.com/2009/01/first-post-for-2009-my-old-web-page.html and

http://noeldlp.blogspot.com/2009/01/day-after.html .

With the current news of actress Natasha Richardson passing away due to a what seemed to be a minor head injury from a skiing fall, I realize now that one cannot minimize even what one would consider a mild concussion like I did after my fall. Because you cannot see an internal hemorrhage, even if you are not in much pain, you can never really be sure how bad it is until you get medically cleared. If you have read the news, Ms. Richardson initially refused treatment and when symptoms got worst later, it was too late when she got rushed to a hospital. So I just want to thank my lucky stars that I survived that fall and am still around to write about it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Running With a Purpose

Running to do self errands always makes a workout easier to bear. Last Thursday I ran from home to my job’s human resources office to return an employee survey, then ran back home. It used to take me about 29 minutes to get there, but now it took me 32 minutes. On the way back home I added a few short spurts of what I consider speedwork nowadays. 32 minutes out plus 28 minutes back for a total of one hour of running, plus a short walk back home to cool down. That took care of two things that needed to be done that day: returning the survey and finishing the workout. After that, I had the rest of the day free since I was off from work.

Last Saturday, I finally did my 5 minute run/ 1 minute walk workout. The goal for that day was to find the location of a videogame store about a mile and a half away, because I wanted to check out a tennis game later, then circle the neighborhood up to the point where my ankle would start to bother me. Anyway, I wanted to run/walk for at least an hour. I found the videogame store pretty easily and just a few feet after I passed it, I saw a five dollar bill on the sidewalk. I picked it up, secured it in my sweater pocket and continued running. After five more minutes of running, I doubled back to see if I could find more money on the ground. Wishful thinking. All I found this time was a penny. So I kept on running perchance to find more treasures on the road well travelled: past CVS Pharmacy, past Walmart, and past the outer road of Long Beach airport, before turning back home, not finding anything else worth picking up from the street. Still, that day’s treasure was not so much about finding $5.01 on the street but that I was able to do a total of an hour and 24 minutes of the run/walk workout. The average pace of the run/walk was 9:49 minutes per mile, while the average pace of the run intervals was 9:24 minutes per mile. Not bad for an urban videostore hunt. Now, I just have to remind myself to look on the ground more often during future runs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Facebook Picture

Late last year when I started looking for former high school classmates, I signed up with Facebook. The second thing I did after completing my personal information was to upload some pictures. I decided I would try to find pictures from the time I started college, left the Philippines with my Philippine passport, obtained my U.S. passport, and a few other photos which showed me through the past 3 decades. The purpose was that I hoped my former classmates would recognize me. I titled that group of pictures: “The Evolution of Me”. I found my old and new passports pretty easily and some others from the 80’s and 90’s, but to my consternation, I couldn’t find my old university I.D. I knew it was somewhere in my home but despite all of my efforts in looking for it, I could not find it, so I finally gave up. I thought maybe I had disposed of it accidentally during one of my closet emptying forays. I was truly disappointed that I wasn’t able to include it in The Evolution of Me album. Jump ahead a few months later… Has this ever happened to you? Its when you are looking for something else then you suddenly find something you are not looking for now but was frantically doing so months ago? Well, I found my university I.D. under some computer accessories in a filing cabinet. I don’t even remember putting it there. After having scanned and uploaded it to Facebook, the album: The Evolution of Me, finally feels complete. This was me circa 1975:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Audited By The IRS !@#$%^&*

Last week I received a very special love letter from our beloved Internal Revenue Service regarding my 2007 income tax return. According to them there was a discrepancy between the return I filed and the numbers that they have on file concerning my investments. They also said their files indicate that I deducted double my California taxes. So I had to find my 2007 statements from my investment firm. Fortunately they were available online so it saved me from digging into my filing cabinets. I highlighted where it showed that I exchanged money from one type of fund to another type of fund and that I didn't gain any extra income from it. Next, I had to find a copy of my 2006 California tax return and 2007 Federal tax return where it showed that I only claimed the amount listed on the return and not double as they had in their files. I then wrote them a response letter to explain the discrepancies, then mailed all of that with the rest of my evidence the next day. All I can hope for now is that they agree with me. I thought my income tax returns were pretty straightforward and I am in no way trying to cheat on them. I use tax software and just answer the questions the software prompts me. Until I hear back from the IRS, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hold my breathe and hope they see it my way.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New WII Tennis Record!

WOW! I was wrong! I didn't think you could go beyond the 2000 Pro Level but there it is. My previous best was 1993 which I mentioned on a previous post. Now I'm thinking that it is the built in WII opponents that Nintendo didn't program to go beyond 2000. The surprising thing is that you can also lose points even when you are winning your matches. I haven't figured that one out. Well there is a new WII Tennis game that is going to start selling this coming Tuesday. Its called Mario Power Tennis. Maybe I can try that out and see if its more challenging.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Longest Run This Year

Today, I did my longest run since October 2008. I have been limiting my long runs to one hour the past few months just to make sure I don't overextend what my right ankle can handle. I decided to drive down to Ocean Boulevard and run on the Long Beach bike path which I haven't done in a couple of months. I initially planned on doing 5 minute run / one minute walk intervals for an hour and a half, but it didn't turn out that way. After the initial 5 minutes I kept running thinking I would do the 1 minute walk break on the next interval. Well when the next walk break was supposed to come, I kept thinking maybe on the next one. So I just kept going and going.

Along the way about ¾ of a mile before the turnaround point I bumped into Katherine, Diane (the two ladies I ran with last December and the subject of my blog on: The Tale of Two Gimps), and another lady whom I didn't recognize (could have been due to oxygen debt), who were on their way back to where they started from. After passing each other with a quick hello and wave, we kept going our own ways, me: to, them: from. On my way back, I bumped into Todd, who is a coach for the Long Beach Team in Training group. I admire this guy. He runs barefoot and has completed more than 200 marathons by now. This was the reason I decided to run on the bike path, hoping to run into people I knew.

Today was not one of those feel good runs. I struggled the whole way and my legs felt heavy, in addition to the pain on my right ankle. What helped was seeing plenty of runners and other exercisers along the way. So finally after eschewing the one minute walk breaks, I ended up running non-stop for an hour and 15 minutes which like I mentioned earlier is my longest run in months. Total miles: 7.83, Pace: 9:34 minutes per mile. If I only knew I was close to 8 miles, I would have tried to reach that distance. Even though I was wearing my GPS watch, I had it set to time the 5 minute run/1 minute walk intervals and at that mode, it only gives my ongoing mileage based on the 5 minute run intervals. I only get the total distance of running and walking if and when I stop the watch and save the workout. The average pace really surprised me because I was running heavy and it felt a lot slower. My aerobic capacity must be getting better. Thank goodness for that. I hope I would be able to go farther as time goes on and as I increase my tolerance level for my ankle pain, as long as the tendon doesn't tear again as it did last October. I shall save the 5 minute run/1 minute walk workout for another day. Today, my body may have been the one that was running, but it was my mind that carried me through to my longest run this year.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The State of Mental Health Care - Part Deux

A lot of nurses and other workers in mental health have jobs in several hospitals and they see the same patients in one hospital being in another hospital in a matter of days or even lesser. Some of the patients may get discharged from one hospital and would be in another the same day. Hospital hopping is so very common in this field. When a patient wants to get admitted to a psychiatric unit, they know exactly what to tell the mental health evaluator or Psychiatric Emergency Team (PET). All the patient has to say is that he or she wants to hurt him/herself or hurt other people and that they have a plan on how to do it. You should see how many of these people say running into traffic as their plan. The PET team member has no way of determining whether this is true or not so it has to be taken at face value. The only way of preventing persons from hurting themselves or others is admitting them to a psych unit where they can be observed closely by the staff. Of course there are a lot of patients who really need help and are really serious about hurting themselves or others, but there are on the other hand a bunch of others who are just malingering because they have run out of money for one reason or another, and just need a place to sleep and eat for free until they get their next social security disability checks.
This entry is not really a complaint about the patients we take care of, and like the PET team member, we just have to take things at face value and take care of the patients the best we can whether they are malingerers or not. Although its sometimes difficult to handle, specially when the malingerers are usually the more demanding patients with a sense of entitlement. Until Medicare, Medi-Cal, and/or the Social Security System catches on to it, or keeps on allowing it, or God forbid turns a blind eye to it, this is what we have to live with.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Recession Thought

Just a short and quick thought that occured to me the other night at work:
My co-workers were talking about our jobs and the recession and I said - "I wonder if Osama Bin Laden is being affected by the global recession? Maybe he had to downsize his quarters and move to a smaller cave."