Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Vicodin and Mayonaise

Poor Superpounce. Don't tell her I let you know. She wanted us to tell her friend that she was grounded rather than let her know the truth. Superpounce has been quarantined from Oofy, the little stuffed dog she has slept with since I placed Oofy in her crib when she was a toddler.
Superpounce is quarantined because she contracted a case of head lice--and she would die if she knew that I let it out. She considers herself to be legitimately famous now that she is on the blog.
The over the counter treatment did not work, so we consulted a highly trained medical professional who recommended . . . .
Yep. Mayonaise in the hair, bound up in saran wrap for three hours then washed out. Worked like a charm. So much so, in fact, that Superpounce asked whether we could smother Oofy in mayo so that she could have her back tonight.
It was hard to make her understand that mayo would not work so well on a plush toy, especially one that is in danger of losing her stuffing and what's left of her loved-on fur if we wash her ever again. There is nothing for it except two weeks in a plastic bag to let any vermin die off.
"It's going to be a long two weeks," moaned Superpounce.
Indeed it is.
Would that mayonaise or even two weeks in a plastic bag could cure me. An MRI has confirmed that my neck owie is an actual slipped disc between C6 and C7. Highly trained medical professionals blow.
Slipped disc????? What am I some obese, deskbound office worker who throws his back out reaching over his paunch to tie his shoes? This is nuts! I refuse to have such an injury. I am not going to age like my parents. I am, after all, immortal. I'm an American, dammit. We are young and thin and strong, at least when we watch TV to escape the reality where we are all wadlding toward a BMI gomorrah of type II diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
But my refusal to have this injury has not sufficed thus far. The injury refuses to listen. Vicodin helps. (It is also highly recommended for Thanksgiving and other large gatherings of extended family. Got to save some of the prescription for next year). I have been running. But I miss the pool. I miss the bike. And most of all I have a gnawing fear that I won't be ready.
I want to be at the start line of Ironman Wisconsin with a sound body and a confident mind. I know I'm blessed to be as healthy as I am, but that does not mute the little voice in my head reminding me that I am not where I want to be.
Now, where are those pills?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's Weird And It's Slimy

by Superpounce

I found something in our classroom closet.
I don't exactly know what it is.
But I know one thing--it's weird and it's slimy.
I couldn't sleep that night.
What a fright to see that sight.
When I went to school the next day, I decided to go in the closet.
I reached in the closet and when I took it out, I screamed.
The teacher said it was harmless, and I could keep him.

I took him and kept him forever.


So, I was complaining to Triboomer yesterday on the instant messenger about missing multisport training while I am sorting out my neck owie. All I can do is run. I guess I should not be surprised, but my complaints often come back to bite me and teach me something.
This morning was another run. But it was perfect. Simple and perfect. One friend, one me, two runners, and perfect company. No heartrate monitor. I even forgot to start my stopwatch. Ten miles from Memorial Park through River Oaks and back.
Ten miles of perfect calm and darkness.
Ten miles of running as fast or as easy as the moment required.
Ten miles of conversation.
Ten miles of listening.
Ten miles of being listened to.
Ten miles of just plain fun.
Ten miles in which there was nothing else that I would rather be doing. That is a rare gift to receive from a friend, and hopefully to have given a friend in return.
Nothing complicated. Nothing fancy. Just ten simple miles.
"How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched brazier, the sound of the sea . . . " I would add, a morning run with a friend. "All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart."
Nikos Kazantkzakis, Zorba the Greek, ch. 7 (1946).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

First Female


It must be the greyhound genes. Today, in her mile run for the physical fitness test, Superpounce, formerly known as the puppy, was AWESOME.

Last year, I had to coax and cajole just to keep her from walking. She still did about 9 minutes to the mile. This year, even while I was away at the doctor, she was . . .

* * * * wait for it * * * * *


If I can't beat you, Nytro, then you shall be accursed. My seed shall be your nemesis.


Not that I am competitive or anything.

In related news, Mrs. Greyhound, who loathes running even more than Nytro, did the mile and found that it wasn't too bad. Maybe I've got some new training partners in the works.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Morning Light

I know that all the peeps in Cleveland, Minneapolis, and the "Through Th3 Wall World Headquarters" probably don't want to hear this, but it has to be said. This is the best time of the year in Houston. We suffer, swelter and melt while you have temperate summer breezes, so in return, we get moderate temps while you sit in the slush.
It's a bit like living in the Southern Hemisphere, say New Zealand, where summer is on the way. Just when Triathlete Magazine and Runner's World start talking about off-seasons and winter training, we are having weatherly bliss. Rather than this serene picture of morning light in the Huntsville State Park, I could have rubbed your faces in it with pictures of Memorial Park yesterday. It was dry and 65 degrees. The park was full of people playing volleyball, eating on blankets, lying on the ground, riding bicycles, and (like me) running.
I was only in the park for a bit, but not because I was running junk miles. The park represented about 1.5 miles in the last hour of an 18 mile long run.
*blink* *blink*
Yes, that's right, sports fans. Eighteen Miles.
It has been a year since I ran that far, and the furthest I ran before the aborted "Battle of the Sexes" was 15 miles--nearly a month ago. I had split a 17 mile run morning and evening last week, but with the Disney Marathon coming up, it was now or never. Either I have progressed to the point that I can run with decent posture and my neck will take a marathon long run or I have not.
So, on the top 5 weather day of the year, I took off on an 18 mile route that approximates part of the Houston Marathon course. The route leaves downtown on the bayou trail, turns south through Montrose and the Museum District, turns west at the Medical Center past Rice University in to West U, turns north then west into the Galleria, turns back East through Memorial Park, and thence along the Bayou back into downtown. If you get out to the Galleria or "the Loop" and give out, there is nothing to be done but walk it in 6 or 8 miles. Absent that, there is the ignominy of calling for rescue, because the family is too far away to pick me up and take me to my car..
Parts were tough, and today I am a little creaky in the legs, but with a little help from my friends Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Mahler and Metallica, we got 'er done.
Tuesday is 7x800 fast. There. Is. Hope.

Friday, November 17, 2006


"Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n wirst du . . . "
Maybe it was the wind--stiff, cold, clear and dry--unlike our usual Houston weather. The air literally changed. Everything past was blown away.
Maybe it was just the time of year--that time when boys like me who went to Sunday School remember that there is someon to whom we are speaking when we give "thanks."
Whatever it was, something told me to shake myself and change, to quit worrying and moping about my "owies" and start rejoicing about my blessings.
I went out on my evening run along the Bayou in the cold and growing darkness as a blanket of navy velvet descended on the city skyline. The glass and steel towers were illuminated from within by electricity and from without by the sun that had just dropped below the horizon. The i-pod randomly shuffled to the finale to Mahler's Symphony No. 2--The Resurrection Symphony.
Nice. Resurrection.
I am blessed that I can run at all. Some cannot. Some never have. I may not be running as fast or as far as I wanted to be running at this point, but heck, I will never run as fast and as far as I'd like.
I am blessed that I will get well at all. Some have conditions that will never heal. Some have conditions that will kill them. I just have to deal with an owie that will some day go away.
I am blessed that I am connected with so many human beings who care about me. Some must suffer more and must suffer alone.
I am blessed.
The final chorale of brass, pipe organ and chorus swelled my i-pod as I reached the Waugh Street Bridge. Against the backdrop of the bayou and the skyline, the bat colony under the bridge swooped majestically into the night sky like one large, smoky beast. The chorus sang,"Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n wirst du . . . "
Rise again, yes, you shall rise again . . . .
I will. I am blessed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Never Fart In A Wetsuit

So, um, yeah. I'm catching up on my posting obligations, A.J. There were no rules against sophomoric humor.

You Have Got To See This

If you want to know what it looks like when a 45 year old tri-geek from California and a 30-something Trimama from Minnesota go into a tatoo parlor in Panama City Beach for their m-dot tatoos, go here!!! Part 2 is even better, HERE! You'll laugh, you'll cry. Taconite Boy's video may win best picture this year and Robo-Stu nearly breaks a rib and throws his back out rolling on the floor laughing at the Iron Kahuna.

Coffee Haiku

(This is dedicated to the slightly insane peeps like Triboomer who gave up the bean of the gods, and for those impoverished souls like A.J. who have yet to acquire the habit.)

Made with my own hands

Bubbling in the day's cold dawn

Better than Starbucks

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fall Comes to South Texas

Fall Comes to South Texas
Originally uploaded by trigreyhound.

Morning Mist

Trimama and all my yankee peeps would have laughed at the Texans. In 45 minutes the temperature dropped from uncomfortably steamy to uncomfortably cool as a cold front passed over our campsite in the Huntsville State Park. By the morning, the temperature was in the 40s and the native Texans called it "cold." Superpounce, formerly known as the puppy, used two sleeping bags and snuggled like there was no tomorrow. I was the one in the technical wicking fabrics and bitchin' Oakley shades.
The water temperature was warmer than the air temp, so we got a beautiful mist rising off the lake in the morning light. It was a YMCA campout--those places where dads are in charge of the kids for the weekend, and thus, in the absence of maternal oversight, very few hands are washed, very few bed times are observed, and there was nary a vegetable in the entire campground. There was no running, except to run to the playgound. There was no biking except for kids. There was no swimming of any kind, becuase there are gators in that lake.
I am not sure the doc would have recommended sleeping on the ground as treatment for a creaky neck and rebellious shoulder.
Enjoy the pics

Superpounce Greets The Day

Superpounce Greets the Day
Originally uploaded by trigreyhound.

Breakfast Bed Head

Breakfast Bed Head
Originally uploaded by trigreyhound.

Swinging Superpounce

Swinging Superpounce
Originally uploaded by trigreyhound.

It's All About The Bike

It's All About The Bike
Originally uploaded by trigreyhound.

Superpounce and Friend

Superpounce and Friend
Originally uploaded by trigreyhound.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Painful Irony

Isn't Ironic. Don't you think? The very month that little sistah AJ challenges us to post every day happens to be the month that I hit the biggest blogger-block-depression-skid-thingy I have ever experienced.

So, I guess I can post about not posting, and why. Primarily, my neck was apparently engineered by the lowest bidder in a failed governmental experiment and constructed from defective spare parts. Mistress Arlene and Doc JD have gotten me some measure of relief, but it seems to have plateaued. We are contemplating more aggressive diagnostic and pain management regimes, but in the meantime, training is both limited and painful. Swimming and biking are against the docs orders, and running is a constant struggle to find a way to hold my head and torso to avoid neck and shoulder pain.
I can hear what you're saying. "Why not just stop??? It's the off-season, you type A, training-diary-obsessed maniac."
I plead guilty as charged, but there are extenuating circumstances. (Ever the lawyer). Training is what I do for fun. It is the one brief interval of "play" that I have in my so-called grownup life. Moreover, I have paid for a race--the Disney Marathon in January--and I have to get in the miles. Uncomfortable or not, I cannot sit on the couch with 26.2 big ones staring me in the face less than two months from now. I had time goals for that race, but I fear even now that, like SOMA, those goals are slipping beyond my reach.
There is a bright spot. Coach T, who motivated me to the first sub-4 marathon effort last year, has changed jobs. Not only is this an excuse to encourage and cheer for someone else instead of wallowing in pain central, it also means she is not teaching classes every day at 0600 and is able to run with me again. If I get the work in, I will get by with a little help from my friends.
OUCH. I mean, out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mistress Arlene

She is cruel to be kind--Mistress Arlene.

Don't worry. She's not that kind of mistress. She's not THAT kind of mistress either.
Mistress Arlene is the world's most knowledgable and skilled therapeutic massage therapist who works at the greatest health club on the planet. I have just given her the dominatrix nom de plume because she has (at times) seemed to take great pleasure in making me wimper, moan and cry like a school girl while she fixes my broken body. The first time she worked on me, before the race, she actually thanked me for letting her "kick my ass." That was not some girly spa massage with lilac scented oil, Taconite Boy.
Mistress Arlene can't be more than 25 years old nor more than 5'2", but she has every therapeutic massage tool known to man in her bag of tricks and she has power to burn. Not only that, she knows exactly which tool to pull out to achieve the best result for each unique client's problem.
On Tuesday she basically restored the use of my right shoulder and arm. My condition was so painful that even light Swedish techniques caused me to break into a cold sweat, lose my breath, and draw back from the touch. She did not give up or freak out. For more than an hour, she worked on the neck, back and shoulder until they could stand increased pressure, deep tissue, active release therapy, stretching, and range of motion excercises. Thursday, I went back for more deep tissue and ART sports massage techniques, and she spent another hour working on improving my function.
I am so lucky to have access to skilled people like Arlene and the Intergalactic Chiros. Who is it that helps you with your owies--whether physical or emotional? Be sure and thank them today.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cervical Facet Syndrome

The damage Nytro has done to my manly physique has now been properly diagnosed. (Yeah, yeah, I know she accuses me of overtraining, but acceptance of responsibility is not how I roll.)
I went back to the Greatest Intergalactic Sports Chiro Group In The Universe yesterday and put additional brains on the problem. Doc JD moved me around, carefully listened to the subtle nuances of the pain that Nytro has inflicted, and put his finger right on the problem:
Cervical Facet Syndrome in the facet between c-6 and c-7.
NOT an overuse injury that is a function of overtraining, per se (take that Nytro, Maria Gratia and all the doubters who poo-pooed my heroic volume), but more a function of acute irritation and over-extension as from a bad bike fit. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) So let this be a lesson to all: if you hurt on your bike, GET FITTED. I am paying a whole lot more at the Chiros than I would have paid for a proper bike fit.
The technical lowdown can be found in an article by Robert E Windsor, MD, FAAPMR, FAAEM, FAAPM, President and Director, Georgia Pain Physicians PC; Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Emory University, which is excerpted below:

In 1933, Ghormley coined the term facet syndrome to describe a constellation of symptoms associated with degenerative changes of the lumbar spine (Ghormley, 1933). Recently, the term cervical facet syndrome has appeared in the literature and implies axial pain presumably secondary to involvement of the posterior elements of the cervical spine.

Many pain generators are located in the cervical spine, including the intervertebral disks, facet joints, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. The facet joints recently have been found to be a possible source of neck pain, and the diagnosis of cervical facet syndrome is often one of exclusion or not considered at all. Clinical features that are often, but not always, associated with cervical facet pain include tenderness to palpation over the facet joints or paraspinal muscles, pain with cervical extension or rotation, and absent neurologic abnormalities (Fukui, 1996). Imaging studies usually are not helpful, with the exception of ruling out other sources of pain, such as fractures or tumors.

Patients with cervical facet joint syndrome often present with complaints of neck pain, headaches, and limited range of motion (ROM). The pain is described as a dull aching discomfort in the posterior neck that sometimes radiates to the shoulder or mid back regions. Patients also may report a history of a previous whiplash injury to the neck.

Clinical features that often, but not always, are associated with cervical facet pain include tenderness to palpation over the facet joints or paraspinal muscles, pain with cervical extension or rotation, and absent neurologic abnormalities.

Each facet joint seems to have a particular radiation pattern upon painful stimulation. Even in subjects without neck pain, stimulation of the facet joints by injecting contrast material into the joints and distending the capsule produces neck pain in a specific pattern corresponding to the specific joint. . . . The C6-C7 joint refers pain to the top and lateral parts of the shoulder and extends caudally to the inferior border of the scapula.

Kibler et al have defined 3 phases of rehabilitation of soft tissue injuries (Cole, 1998). The goals of the first phase are to reduce pain and inflammation, and increase the pain-free ROM. Ice is indicated during the acute phase to decrease blood flow and subsequent hemorrhage into the injured tissues, as well as reducing local edema. Application of ice also can reduce muscle spasm. Therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation may also reduce painful muscle spasms as well. Manual therapy, joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, and muscle stretching often are helpful. Passive range of motion (PROM) and then active range of motion (AROM) exercises in a pain-free range should be initiated in this phase. Finally, strengthening should begin with isometric exercises and progress to isotonic as tolerated.
Recovery Phase Rehabilitation Program Physical Therapy Patients should transition into the recovery phase of rehabilitation when they are nearly pain free. The goals of this phase are to eliminate pain and further increase ROM, strength, and neuromuscular control. Manual therapy with soft tissue massage and mobilization still may be required, but emphasis is placed on improving strength, flexibility, and neuromuscular control.
Maintenance Phase Rehabilitation Program Physical Therapy Patients are ready for the final phase of rehabilitation after they have achieved full and pain-free ROM, and a significant improvement in strength. The goals of the maintenance phase are to balance strength and flexibility, and to increase endurance.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are helpful in reducing pain and inflammation, and cyclo-oxygenase (COX-II) inhibitors have been introduced as options that cause less gastric irritation. Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and doxepin, and some antiseizure medications, such as gabapentin, carbamazepine, and divalproex, are useful in alleviating neuropathic pain. Non-narcotic and narcotic pain medications may be needed for moderate to severe pain. Muscle relaxants, such as baclofen and tizanidine, are very helpful in reducing the associated muscle spasm that often accompanies facet pain. If the patient is having problems sleeping, then a short course of a sleeping aid, such as zolpidem, temazepam, and zaleplon may be of benefit.

Return to play is an individualized process for athletes with cervical facet joint syndrome. No specific time frame exists for a particular injury. Safe return to play is allowed after the appropriate sport-specific rehabilitation program is completed and the athlete demonstrates full pain-free ROM and proper neutral spine posture with sport-specific activities.