Monday, August 31, 2009

Sleep Deprived Psychosis

I previously mentioned that I had awakened at 3 A.M. on Saturday morning then did a six mile run. After I got home, I had lunch, then at about 4 P.M. I tried to take a nap before I had to go to work at 7 P.M. Well I was restless and was unable to do so. My work shift starts at 7 P.M and ends at 7:30 A.M. so I had to be up all night. I was so tired that I was afraid I was going to start seeing things that were not there or start talking nonsensically. Fortunately, it was not a busy night because we only had a few patients, no admissions, and nobody acting out. When I hit the twenty four hour mark of being awake at 3 A.M., I was still feeling okay but fading fast so I had to take a break at 4. That helped a lot and I managed to finish the shift without suffering from sleep deprived psychosis. I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep on my bed but with the heat wave that we have been having, going to sleep and staying asleep posed another challenge. Nevertheless I managed to sleep for three and a half hours before the high noon heat awoke me. I’m back at work tonight on 3 ½ hours of sleep and running on fumes. I’ll be doing a lot of squats and pacing the hallways to keep myself awake and hopefully when 7:30 A.M. comes, I’m still sane. If not, well, I'm already in the right place.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The 3 A.M. Running Decision

I went to bed at about 10:30 last night and woke up at 3 A.M. which was two hours before my alarm clock was supposed to wake me. So what can I do but lie in bed and contemplate on what to do four hours hence? Do the run/walk for 13.1 miles like the past two Saturdays, or attempt to run the whole way for 6.2 miles? Thinking about it was probably the reason why I couldn’t go back to sleep. Well the final decision was try to run the 6.2 miles non-stop and I knew exactly the people who could help me do that because they run a decent and controlled pace – Kim and Rick. Even though I knew I could keep up with them, I was a little bit apprehensive because I haven’t run more than 40 minutes continuously in the past three weeks. Sure I have run/walked longer, but that gave my right ankle a break from the pounding. Running non-stop stresses the ankle more and my left leg has to bear most of my weight too. Today was supposed to mimic race conditions but I wasn’t even concerned about that, I was just concerned about my ankle condition.

I arrived at the starting line early so I was able to do about a five minute warm up, then I started looking for Kim and Rick. I didn’t see them right away so I thought they were not going to show up and I would have to find someone else to pace off from. I was so relieved when I finally saw them and stuck to them like a leech when the run got started. As expected their pace was very steady as Rick was telling us about the vacation he just returned from. In the meantime I was monitoring my ankle for any unusual pain. Kim and Rick were checking on me frequently to ask how I felt and so far the run was going well for me. With two miles to go they had to do a quick water fountain stop so I continued on my own. I felt a little twinge of pain on a downhill portion at about the six mile point but it seemed to even itself out. I made it to the finish line in 1 hour, 1 minute, and 16 seconds which translated to an average pace of 9:53 per mile which isn’t so bad because that was about my pace when the training season started in late May. What a relief! Now all I have to do is rest and ice my joints then go to work tonight, which may even be more difficult than running 6.2 miles continuously.

Thank you so much Kim and Rick for enabling me to finish today’s run. With your help you made me believe that I can still do it and that I made the right 3 A.M. decision.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My New Treadmill

Well, my new treadmill was finally delivered last Monday morning and the huge box is lying on my living room floor waiting to be assembled. When the shipping company arrived they told me they only did curbside delivery but I was able to appeal to their kindness and they rolled the dolly up the second floor with my help, the guy pulling from above and me lifting from below.

Then I saw that the treadmill needed more work on assembling it than I thought I could tackle. First the instructions said it was a two person operation, and second, I didn’t have all the necessary tools to do the job. Oh, well…

With the instruction manual came a flyer advertising an 800 number if you wanted a factory authorized service technician to assemble your product. After checking for pricing I decided to avail of their services. The damage was $169, the waiting for them to call to set an appointment, interminable. After all, the flyer said a technician will call within five business days and it’s only the fourth today. It seems like they are going to take their good old time until the last possible day to call. I could imagine them now slaving away going from house to house assembling exercise equipment all day long. I thought the most popular time for people to purchase exercise equipment was at the beginning of the year when they start their New Year’s resolutions to exercise more and/or lose weight. Based on how busy these service technicians seem to be in the middle of summer, apparently not.

In the meantime, I wait, because patience is a virtue.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Old Fashioned Marathon Training

Finisher's shirts from my first two marathons

Wow, I recently realized that the time it took me to run/walk sixteen miles last Saturday (2 hours and 53 minutes) was almost the amount of time it used to take me to do my longest runs while preparing for a marathon. If I remember correctly from training for my first marathon, the training plan only called for a three hour run as the longest. The reason was that if you can run for three hours, you can certainly finish a marathon. This was before GPS watches and runners only relied on an ordinary watch. Nowadays training plans call for twenty to twenty two miles as the longest runs and for slower runners that could take more than three hours. The three hour long run has taken a lot of runners using the old Honolulu Marathon Training Plan to the finish line and my old booklet from 1980 even says that a long run of fourteen miles is enough to finish a marathon. I don’t know if Honolulu’s finishers marathon plan is still the same today but it used to be that you would progress by increasing your long runs by thirty minutes every two weeks until you reached three hours, regardless of distance. As recently as five years ago that was the kind of marathon training I was doing and it enabled me to finish twenty five marathons. I can’t run marathons anymore because of my tendon problems, but it just surprised me that I was able to run/walk for almost three hours last Saturday.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grinning From Ear to Ear

Sophie & Noel before the run

Somebody please help me wipe the smile off my face. No, not because of the picture above, although that one makes me smile too – that’s my friend Sophie, the fartlek girl from a previous blog (just look up what fartlek means please). Thanks for the picture Sophie J, very sweet of you. The smile on my face is a result of today’s run where the unplanned happened.

When I woke up this morning, I was undecided on what to do – walk for 10 miles, or run/walk like I did last weekend, specially when my left knee started hurting yesterday for no apparent reason. This is of course in addition to my bad right ankle.

When I got to the staging area, a few runners were already starting their runs early, so as soon as my GPS watch connected to the satellites up above, I took off. I saw Linda up ahead so I missed my first walk break catching up with her. When I caught up with her, we started talking about our strategy for today’s run. She said she was running for 7 minutes and taking a walking break for 1 minute and I said I was doing a 4 minute run and 1 minute walk break. Linda was so nice to offer to run with me doing the 4/1 intervals up to the point where the course separates between the 10 milers (me) and the 18 milers (Linda). So as we continued chatting the distance and time seemed to go by quicker and more comfortably. When we got near the point where we had to go our separate ways, I told Linda that I really wanted to see what the course looked like inside California State University Long Beach. I figured I could just find a shortcut on the way back if my right ankle wasn’t feeling up to it. Well with all the chatting we did and touring the university campus I didn’t even check how many miles we had already run until we were at 9 miles. If you remember, that was the distance I walked 2 weeks ago with the trekking poles, and I ran/walked last week. I definitely would be going beyond 10 miles today. How much farther depended on how much my right ankle would cooperate. My left knee wasn’t too much of an issue, thankfully. As we ran, a few people passed us, and we even passed a few, and this is in spite of doing the walk breaks because we were doing pretty well during the run intervals. When we reached what was supposed to be my shortcut point, I kept running with Linda but I told her I was going to turn around where the 16 mile cut-off was. I figured I had gone way past my goal for the day and didn’t want to flirt with disaster and aggravate my right ankle again. So when I made the U-turn at Ocean Boulevard, Linda continued towards the Peninsula for two more extra miles to complete her 18 miler. I was sorry that I couldn’t provide her company for the whole 18 miles, but she understood. In the meantime I had 2 more miles to go. I was feeling discomfort on my right ankle but surprisingly it was occurring during the walking part. Strange, huh?

Well to make an already long story short, I managed to run for 16 miles today and that made me very happy. That’s why I have been grinning from ear to ear from the time I finished the run up to this time five hours later. I was pleasantly surprised at what my ankle was able to give me today. But I extend my utmost gratitude and appreciation to Linda who sacrificed her own plans so I could indulge mine.

What did I do to treat myself for today’s achievement? I had some super nachos for lunch which I haven’t had in a long time J.

Linda & Noel @ about 8 miles

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What It Took To Run Every Day For 21 Years

I know, I know, I keep on revisiting this defunct running streak even though it’s old news, except I haven’t really given the reason why I started it and how I was able to do it. I just wrote about how it ended. I might send it to Emmett (AREC secretary and newsletter editor) and see if he needs a space filler for the next newsletter since I haven’t contributed anything this year yet.

Not that I was trying to set any personal records. I just decided one day to try to run every day and soon it became routine just like brushing my teeth. Actually, before the 21 year streak, I already had a 3 year streak going which was broken because I twisted my ankle playing volleyball. I happened to step on the foot of an opposing player on the other side of the net while landing from a jump. That was an eight day break before I resumed running every day again.

Distances? Anywhere from a mile to a marathon. The requirements of the United States Running Streak Association (which I’m not a member of) are as follows: A running streak is defined by USRSA as running
at least one continuous mile within each calendar day under one's own body power. (The current record is 41 years and counting.)

So what does it take to do this seemingly insane task? The United States Postal Service has this motto: "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." The only thing I missed from that motto is the snow because I’ve never tried running in that. Everything else including tropical storm and earthquake, I’ve run through. One storm I remember was when I was running in the streets of Lawndale. It was already raining hard when I started but then in the middle of the run, gale force winds developed and I had to seek shelter in the eaves of a house. When the wind subsided, I continued running. Heck, I had run in the middle of a typhoon in the Philippines along Roxas Boulevard several years prior, so no gale force wind was going to stop me now!

Another time I didn’t know there was an earthquake, albeit a small one, until I got home from my run and hearing about it on the news. Speaking again of rain, I am reminded of a period of a whole week when I had to run indoors on my treadmill because of the constant daily downpour. The treadmill helped a lot during inclement weather, while waiting for a UPS delivery, or when I was injured and had to run on a softer surface.

Gloom of night didn’t stop me either. When I was working in Torrance a long time ago, I used to run during my break at 3 or 4 in the morning. The cops patrolling the area who saw me were probably wondering if I had escaped from the mental institution I was working in at the time. Run for three hours after working an eight hour midnight shift? Well, how can you say no to the hospital administrator who was training for his first marathon?At another hospital, I ran for as much as an hour back and forth on a long carpeted hallway. It took about one minute to run from one end to the other.

Going home to the Philippines with a stopover in Honolulu? No problem. Just change into running gear at the terminal in Hawaii and run through the corridors in the middle of the night. Fear of losing a day of running due to the time difference between the U.S. and the P.I.(Philippine Islands)? Just run amidst the jeepneys, buses, tricycles, pedestrians, and thick smog in the crowded streets near the Manila Domestic Terminal while waiting for the flight to Zamboanga City, then run a little bit more once you get to your final destination. Of course you have to find someone you can trust to watch over your luggage while you’re doing this especially if you are travelling alone. Feeling pain after going up and down the bleachers of the Long Beach City College Veterans Stadium? Keep running anyway despite the worsening pain. Well, actually that was the beginning of the end. I’m sure other people have run under more adverse conditions, but these were the ones that I experienced.

Do I wish I can still do it? Of course I do, but realistically, with my nagging posterior tibialis tendon injury I am unable to do so anymore. So I have to be content on being able to run just three times a week and cross train the other days. Speaking of which, I actually still have a streak going on - that of exercising every day. This one has been going on much longer than the already ended running streak. This streak may last forever.

See, it doesn’t take too much to start and maintain a streak. Just a wee bit of compulsiveness and bullheadedness and you’re well on your way.

The Aircast PTTD Brace

After I tweaked my ankle two weeks ago, I reconsidered purchasing an over the counter ankle brace that is supposed to help with Posterior Tibialis Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD). It was something I had looked into before and it is called the Aircast PTTD brace which is only available for sale over the internet. After reading through the features, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying it and see if it relieves my pain.

So I ordered it from a company in Florida and it was supposed to be delivered by Monday. I was tracking the shipment online at the UPS website and it was already approaching 7 P.M. (the time when they stop delivering for the day). At about 6:50 I went to the security gate to check if they had missed me and left me a notice. I didn’t see any. At 7:10 I checked again and found a notice. I don’t think the UPS driver even tried to contact me since I left very specific instructions on how to contact me from the security gate. Maybe he was running late and was in a hurry to get back home. Anyway I had forgiven him after I received the product on Tuesday. I didn’t even mention that he was remiss the previous day.

Well the product arrived a few hours too late for my Tuesday run so I’ll have to wait to try to run with it on Thursday. What I was able to do was try it on to see how it felt. The brace has two rigid plastic supports on the inner and outer side, a couple of straps to hold it against the ankle, and an air bladder on the posterior tibialis area which you can pump up with an air pump that came with it. The idea is to support the tendon with the air bladder and restrict the side to side motion of the ankle with the plastic supports. I guess this is the over the counter version of the more expensive, available by prescription only, customized Richie Brace. The Richie Brace costs about $800.00, while the Aircast is about $50.00.

Well, we shall have to wait and see if the Aircast works. I don’t expect too much from it, but if it relieves the pain even a little bit and not make matters worse, then it would be good enough.

Summer Gloom

We’ve been having some strange summer weather lately. For about the past two weeks the mornings have been cool when it’s supposed to be sultry since it’s the middle of summer. Even the rest of the day has been mild. The environmentalists are probably blaming global warming already. Just yesterday I had to run with a long sleeved shirt at eight in the morning when the temperature was about 66 degrees Fahrenheit (18.8 Celsius), and the sun didn’t come out until after 11 o’clock. In a way, it’s good because it is easier to exercise in cooler weather. Besides we are saving money and electricity from not having to use the air conditioner. Just a few weeks ago, I was complaining of the heat and had to run the A/C a few hours in the afternoon. Well we won’t have to wait for the heat too long. The forecast for the next few days will be a gradual warming up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Complain About Being Bored At Work? FORGETABOUTIT!

In a job where an incident is always waiting to happen, a boring night is not something to complain about. I’ve always said all these years that boring is good because that means none of the patients are acting out.
Acting out in this kind of work could mean: getting into an argument with another patient which could result in threatening to beat each other up. Oftentimes the argument would be about totally unrelated subjects since some these patients are paranoid and others have auditory and visual hallucinations, so what they hear and see may not be what the other patient said or did. And then there are the yellers whose voices are so loud and piercing and when this happens in the middle of the night, it’s worse because it tends to wake the other patients up whom you also have to placate.
Right at this moment we just admitted a patient who is saying that she cannot go back and stay in her room because it is possessed. Just when I was typing that, the patient tried to follow a staff member out the door in an attempt to escape. It’s turning out to be one of those nights because earlier we had another runner who tried the same thing.
Another type of acting out behavior is when a patient threatens to hurt the staff or starts hitting the walls or throwing furniture because he or she isn’t getting the medication he or she wants. Usually they just yell or scream until they get what they want. A lot of these patients know more about the medications they are taking than the staff does because they are addicted to those meds.
Just last week we started the evening so peacefully that I mentioned to my co-worker that it was unusually quiet. Not more than an hour later two roommates tried to beat the hell out of each other because one of them woke up the other to tell him that it was medication time. No one actually made physical contact but to avoid further conflict we had to move one of them to another room.
One of the reasons why a patient starts acting out is the perceived lack of food. Some of these patients seem insatiable despite giving them whatever available food we have on hand and when we run out, we get accused of hiding hospital food from them. Others have restricted diets so we can’t give them the amount of food they want.
Another source of patient anxiety is the nicotine fit. We only have five scheduled smoke breaks all day and none after 9:30 in the evening, so if someone had the craving to smoke, we are unable to accommodate him or her and some would throw a hissy fit or a temper tantrum in an attempt to get what they want.
I wish I could list all the instances of patients acting out but there are so many of them and they come in different variations. It’s truly an interesting and challenging but stressful job. Sometimes you wish for a lot more boring nights.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Getting My Fix - Four Minutes at a Time

A week after my nine mile trek around Long Beach, I embarked on another adventure yesterday, this time without my crutches (trekking poles). I was able to mix in some running with bits of walking. Having started 20 to 30 minutes before the main group, which I’m thinking now was too early, only two people passed me, one who also started early but was running the whole way for eight miles, and the other who I’m not sure was doing the full eight miles.

My plan for the day was to try to run for four minutes then walk for one minute to give my ankle a break, from start to finish for the shorter eight mile course. This was two days after having run/walked for six miles using a three minute/one minute run-walk interval. I was doing so well that I decided to sidetrack myself and ran part of the longer twelve mile course. My tender right ankle tendon had moments of pain specially on the hills. It would stretch one way going uphill and pull the other way on the downhill. Not only that, it was uncomfortable running on the left side of the road because it turned my ankle inwards. So I had to run with the traffic on the right side of the street most of the time.

My pace was so slow that I didn’t even splatter any sweat on my eyeglasses like I usually do. Forget about breathing hard, the pace wasn’t fast enough to do that either. Trying to run faster at this time is not compatible with the present condition of my ankle. I just don’t want to overstretch the tendon while at its healing phase. I guess if it’s heavy breathing I’m after, I’ll have to get it from another type of activity (wink, wink).

In the meantime, it appears that I’m developing a black toe on my right foot. Essentially it’s a blood blister or bruise underneath the nail, which happens to a lot of long distance runners. I don’t know why I’m getting it since I don’t feel any of my toes rubbing against the shoe.

What I miss most about having to do the run/walk is running with other people: how you help pace each other, encourage each other, and talk with each other to make the miles go by quicker.

But at least I’m able to satiate my running addiction even if it was only four minutes at a time. I even finished 9.3 miles yesterday doing just that without battering my ankle too much. It’s all good for now.