Catastrophe avoided

Sunday night about 7 or 7:30 pm, we heard the back door shut. I thought it was our son who is always on the move, but no, he didn’t come running through the kitchen.

So it was chalked up as one of those things. The wind. The door hadn’t been shut properly and the piston finally pulled it shut 

It wasn’t until bedtime that I realized I hadn’t seen our female cat all night. Usually she’s crawling into my lap or chasing or being chased by one of our two male cats.

In fact, the last time we saw her she was in a standoff with our youngest cat.

So I wandered around the house shaking a treat container, being followed by the other two cats and our two dogs, who thought it was treat time.

But no sign of Moana Lisa, our white cat. 

Our son came up with that name. When we first got her, she had been abused and for the first week she just hid under our bed moaning loudly. It took several weeks before she stopped moaning any time someone would come near her. It took another six months before she stopped clawing and biting anyone who tried to pet her. And it was almost a year before she’d crawl up into your lap, but you still weren’t allowed to touch her. If you did, she’d moan, bite, and leave. She’s never been the most loving cat.

So we went to bed thinking she was just in a hissy mood because of the previous confrontation with our younger cat and she’d come out when she was ready. (We never connected the door to the possibility she had gotten out.)

In the morning, still no sign of her, but we all had to leave for work and school so we couldn’t look for her.

That evening, still no sign of her. OK. Maybe she wasn’t pouting somewhere in the house after all. Did she get out? That’s when we recalled the door closing the previous night.

But of all the cars, she’s been the least interested in trying to go outside. (We don’t let our cats outside, they’re pets, and I don’t understand people who do.)

We have a fenced-in yard. She’s not a climber, rarely uses the cat tower in the house, so if she got out, we reasoned, she would be in our yard and the dogs would have keyed on her. “Here she is! Cat! Here she is!” But no, they acted like there was no new scent in their territory. So where could she be?

We looked in the bushes and around the house just in case. No sign of her.

I decided to take the dog for a walk and maybe he’d catch her scent or something. Yeah, silly. Cobie isn’t a scent hound, he’s a dalmatian/lab mix. The only thing he can sniff out is food.

I went down the street and turned up our alley, hoping she’d have stayed nearby. I kept calling her name and thought I heard her answer, so I kept calling, but it turned out to be a stupid crow mocking me.

We passed a garage and saw something moving next to it. It was a white cat. How many of those are around? But this one was all dirty, with grease spots, and her hair was all disheveled. It didn’t look like her.

But I called her name anyway and she stopped, looked at me, and came running over, “You found me!”

But Cobie was all excited too, and Moana wouldn’t come near enoigh to let me grab her, so I had to take the dog home, then go back for her.

She was now under a car, but she came quickly when I called her. I picked her up and took her back home.

Once inside the house, she was so happy she rubbed herself against anyone who came near her, even the dogs.

But, as I said, she was covered in grease and dirt. I wasn’t sure how she’d take to a bath so I got a wet soapy washcloth and tried to rub her clean. That didn’t work very I threw caution to the winds, and put a little water in the tub and put her in, fully expecting to be clawed to death. Instead she just sort of made “meh” sounds. She wasn’t happy, yet she wasn’t angry either. She tolerated it. 

So I shampoed her, then did my best to dry her.

And the rest of the night she kept snuggling with my wife or with me, purring loudly, as if to say, “There’s no place like home!”

Later that night she slept in her bed and never moved. She was still there in the morning. Her harrowing adventure in the noisy, scary outside must have wiped her out.

We still aren’t sure why she went outside. She’s never shown any interest. The only thing we can think of is she was sniffing by the back door and our youngest cat pushed her out.

You know how brothers are toward their sisters. Besides, he looked guilty. 

Then the door banged shut and must have scared her so she just ran until she realized she alone and lost.

I doubt she’ll do that again. For the moment, she seems like a changed cat. Before she tolerated us. Now, it seems, she really appreciates us.

Cobie thinks Moana smells much better after her bath. (He won’t admit he missed her.)


Body and inSole

This may sound like a familiar complaint (see Remember the Brannock Device?), but it’s a whole new one, I promise.

As you may recall, I injured my leg somehow last week. There was pain in the thigh and gluteus and when I attempted to run, the leg felt weak, like it was going to collapse under me.

So I took a week off running, then ran Thursday. Everything felt fine, the pain was reduced. Today, I attempted another run. The pain was there and so was the weakness, but it was only evident at a 5 mph pace or slower. At 6 mph it was fine and at what for me right now is a near sprint — 8 mph — it was also fine.

The problem is, I took a week off! Yes, exactly. My aerobic level isn’t there. I can’t sustain 6 mph. So instead I did 30 to 45 seconds at 8 mph and then did about 3 minutes at walking pace, 4 mph. I managed about two miles in about 25 minutes.

Before I ran, I did two minutes of warm-up on my Lifestyler Cardiofit (which is in the foreground of the picture. In the background is my Schwinn treadmill. In the center is my comfy chair for vegging out and listening to my collection of vinyl).

exercise room

Afterwards, I stretched.

But, as you may have noticed reading this, I’ve ADHDed around what my complaint was and what the subject of this whole blogpost was supposed to be about. (It’s been a bad day ADHD-wise, but I’ll not go off on that tangent and explain. I’ll try to keep on topic.)

Back in June, I bought a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 running shoes (see Saturday Shopping for Shoes). I tried on a few shoes and found them to be the most comfortable. The problem lately has been they just haven’t been as comfortable as they were just two months ago. That’s why I picked up the cushy pair of Saucony a couple weeks back, because the Brooks seems stiff and unpleasant, as if the cushioning had hardened up or something.

It was strange because my most comfortable fitting shoes were my Brooks Beasts and they’ve lasted for years. It seemed odd that Brooks had forgotten how to make good fitting shoes in such a short time.

Well, guess what it was?

Aw. You peeked.

Yes, it was the replacement insole the salesman at the shoe store talked me into. It was deja vu all over again. The insoles the salesman at Sports Authority (now kharmicly out of business) for the Asics I bought last year also hurt my feet. Now I find that the problem with the Brooks wasn’t the shoes, it was the Superfeet Orange Insoles I had in them.


Now, Superfeet is probably a very good brand of aftermarket insole inserts, but the problem I just realized today is: this particular pair hurts!

I put one of the original Brooks inserts into one shoe and left the Superfeet insert in the other and bounced in them. The Brooks insert felt the way I remembered the Brooks feeling at the store: cushy, yet supportive. Very, very comfortable. The Superfeet insert? It was only when I compared them side by side that I realized the problem was the Superfeet were too narrow at the heel. Instead of my heel fitting comfortably inside the hard plastic cup, it rested up on the sides.

So it never was the Brooks, it was a poorly-sized Superfeet inserts. I guess that was my fault. At the time, they seemed to fit. I didn’t realize they were too narrow or that the plastic sides were digging painfully into my heel. I just assumed a proper insert was supposed to be stiff… and, um, painful.

Now I know better. Maybe I’ll try to take the Superfeet back to Fleet Feet and say they weren’t the right size. It’s only been two months.

In the meantime, I was unhappy with my running shoes, but now I’m not. I’m very happy with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16.

And I wonder if aftermarket inserts are really necessary or if they’re just something shoe salesmen try to talk you into for an additional sale?

Do you use special inserts or do you use the insole that comes with your running shoe?



Run like the wind

In my case, a slow, limping, overweight wind.

It’s been a week since I ran last. I was starting to feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

The pain in my hip and thigh has been lessening, however, and I’ve been on a regimen of various stretches that I’ve found designed for your legs and hips and also for IT Band issues. They seem to have helped a little.

But just as importantly,  I rested for a week. No running since last Thursday, although I still did my daily walking at work which adds up to about four miles, albeit much more slowly and with a limp. And I still took the stairs at work.

I also did other leg exercises, as I mentioned in “Hostage Crisis Day 5.”

And yesterday, I rested. I mean, really rested. I didn’t do any exercises. Well, except for walking and stairs and stretching. But no weight training or other type exercises. That’s resting, right?

So today, I’d say the pain was somewhat reduced and I was walking without the limp. So at lunch, I walked much faster. Enough to raise my heart rate and break into a mild sweat. Without pain. So I took that as a good sign.

I was going to run.

Before the run, I warmed up doing some rows on my Weider Crossbow. I don’t usually warm up before a run. (On the other hand, I do do cool downs.) I would imagine not warming up is just asking for an injury, right?

Then I got on the treadmill and set it for 5k at a pace of about 5.2 mph. Slow, but not too slow.

And yes. There was pain. I think I was limping as I was running. Is that a bad thing? I’m sure it is. It probably throws everything out of balance.

But I made it. I ran the full 5k. And when I finished, the pain was diminished from what I had experienced when I had started the run. How much of that was endorphin-related, I don’t know.

So I immediately did a bunch of stretches, which is something I don’t usually do either. After a run, I just sort of plop into a chair all slouching and tired.

But this time, I did the stretches. Have I mentioned I hate stretching? I know I have. It hurts. Like Hell. It burns. It makes me grit my teeth and I breath in gasps of pain.

And that’s just getting down on the floor; the stretches themselves cause me to emit screams that make the neighbors think someone is being tortured.

I am.

It’s all over now though. My body, my legs, feel good. I needed that run. And I needed to stretch.

Tomorrow, I’ll see how everything feels, then decide on Saturday if I’ll rest or attempt another run.

I hope I can run.

I wonder if I should ice?





Hostage crisis day 5

Yes, I’m entering day five of a hostage crisis. I’m being held hostage by my very own leg. 

The pain came on early last Tuesday (which was odd because my last run was Saturday, so I have no idea where it came from), but I attempted two 3.5 mile runs despite that. One on Tuesday and one on Thursday. Neither was enjoyable.

So I thought I’d rest the leg and not run by skipping my Saturday run. I kept thinking it would get better and I could run on Sunday. Or Monday. Or today, my normally scheduled run day.

But it isn’t looking like it. I mentioned I thought it was my vastus lateralis, like I’m some kind of doctor. I’m not. On the muscle chart, that looked like a good candidate.

Although I keep hearing about this IT Band, which isn’t a band at all, at least they don’t play music, unless you consider the occasional groan of pain musical.

I wondered why, as a runner who read nearly every running and Fitness magazine back in the ’80s, I’d never heard of the IT Band before, and I think it’s because they’ve only recently changed their thinking about it. 

It used to be thought as merely a stabilizer for the hip when walking, but now they believe it acts like a spring to aid locomotion.


Something in my left thigh from my hip down to my knee hurts and feels weak when I step on it. Running only makes the weakness and pain worse, so I can’t use the old adage, “run through the pain.”

I tried that with my shin splints back in the late ’80s. They’d burn like hell for the first few miles, but by the fifth or sixth mile, the pain went away and I could run relatively pain-free for the rest of my daily 12 mile run.

Except it got to the point where I could barely walk up stairs because of the shin splints hurt so bad. So I stopped running.

And I enjoy running. Not running makes me crabby. Not exercising makes me flabby. Getting flabby makes me more crabby. It’s a vicious circle.

Last night I decided to use this machine we have from the ’90s, like a rowing/biking kind of machine where you push with your legs and pull with your arms, but instead of your butt sliding back and forth on the seat like a typical rowing machine, the seat rises up and the whole thing works like a scissors.

They were all the rage.

I did 12 minutes on it, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a resistance machine with a variable resistance piston, and takes a lot of effort. 

A lot more effort than the ones they had advertised on TV back in the day. Those seemed more like kid’s playground toys, whereas this one, bought through Sears (after our stair stepper died), is more anaerobic than aerobic. 

The best part of using this machine: No pain. The action must work the muscles other than the area that is strained.

It occurs to me that if I’m suffering from a muscle imbalance versus a muscle strain from overuse, then working the muscles other than those used in running is probably very helpful.

Tonight, if my thigh is still bothering me, I’ll do some leg exercises on my old Weider Crossbow (similar to the Bowflex). Extensions to strengthen my quads and curls to do my hammies. And maybe some rowing motions as well. 

And I guess I could do some upper body stuff as well.

Exercises I should have been doing all along to keep the imbalance from happening in the first place (except that the Weider Crossbow was being used as a place to keep our folded laundry. Yeah. I know. Shame on me.).

And yes, I’ve been doing various leg stretches several times a day. Stretches that focus on the thigh, the gluteus, the hammies, as well as the calves. I’m hoping I can do a short, easy run by Thursday.

It’s very disappointing to have fallen back in love with running only to have an injury sideline me.

Run. Rest. Stretch. Weight train.


New shoes new pain

The picture has nothing to do with the topic, it’s just my view at lunch while out walking on the Riverwalk in Milwaukee.

A couple weeks ago I went and picked up a new pair of running shoes: Saucony Grid Cohesion 9.

The main reason I picked them up was price. They were cheap and since my wife was getting a pair of shoes, and since the store has a Buy One Get One Half Off policy all the time, I figured why not?

In other words, it was a spur of the moment purchase not based on beforehand knowledge or research.

The Grid Cohesion 9 look nice and they have much more cushion than my current running shoes: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16.

I figured it would be nice to switch off shoes every other run. Except so far I’ve run 5 or 6 times straight in the Saucony.

They do have more cushion and despite weighing the same as the Brooks, they feel lighter on my feet. Weird, hey?

The first few runs, the extra cushion seemed to provide more bounce. I didn’t feel like I was landing as hard on my feet.

Yesterday, however, I noticed a pain in my outer left thigh that ran from my hip down to the side of my knee. I don’t know when it first appeared (and really, at my age sometimes you just wake up with unexplained pains and strains. It doesn’t help that my 70 pound dalmatian sleeps on top of and between my legs.).

At first I suspected it was from not stretching my vastus lateralis the way I should (however that’s done. I need to look that up.).

So I figured ignoring it was the best course of action and I treadmilled just as planned. I set everything up for 3.5 miles (an increase of 0.4 miles from my usual 5k distance) at an alternating pace of 5.5 mph and 7.5 mph.

The pain in my hip continued and was intense enough to make my left leg feel weak, almost forcing a limp, on each footfall. I kept the pace up for the first mile and managed to do it in 10 minutes and change,  a new PB for the mile, but the pain forced me to slow down and I struggled through to finish the 3.5 miles in 40 minutes and change.


I’ve been doing some stretching to alleviate the pain, but I have to wonder–is it the shoes?

The Saucony Grid Cohesion 9 is a neutral shoe, whereas the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 has more support for us over-pronators.

I’ll give my leg a little rest, do more stretches, and go back to using the Brooks and see if the pain goes away.

I will judge the Saucony Grid Cohesion 9 as a fail. Good for neutral runner’s who don’t need support, but not so good for me.

Now I need to do some research and see if I can’t find a shoe that provides adequate support for overpronation while still giving a nice cushioned ride.

I’ll report back if I find something.

If, in the meantime, you have a suggestion, feel free to make it (unless it’s Nike or Adidas. I don’t care those.)

At least the Saucony will make a nice pair of walking shoes.

Walk. Run. Wear good shoes.


Push it real good

Running is a journey to discovery. I’m discovering that a lot of what I thought I knew was wro-o… was wro-on… was not exactly right.

Many of us think running is a natural activity; as children we fall into our stride, or so we think.

The fact is, children weigh a fraction of what adults do, so they don’t need proper mechanics to race around the playground all day without getting tired.

For instance, I was a long-legged, skinny toe head. I could run faster than most of the kids in the neighborhood. Basically, I never thought about mechanics, I just ran, letting gravity pull me forward as I threw my legs out just to keep from falling.

Less than stylish.

Since I never took track in high school, I was never shown proper running technique. Therefore, as an adult, I continued to run using gravity as the impetus for my forward movement.

But now I’m watching YouTube videos and reading articles on running mechanics to see what an overweight aging runner should do different from the skinny long-legged child.

So treadmilling has been helping me with stride and cadence. I’ve altered my strike from pure heel strike to Midwood strike.

But my most significant epiphany came while walking. In reading about stride, they talk about pushing with your rear foot. Yeah, OK. So? Doesn’t everyone?


While walking I became conscious of my stride. It happened when i was walking up a hill. I seemed to have more power going up than on a flat surface. Why? I realized on the incline I was pushing off my back leg, but on a flat surface I was not pushing off. So how then was I moving forward?

I mentioned it earlier. I was falling forward. Then I’d pull myself forward on the extended leg. Essentially, I was running backwards.

Instead of using my calves and thighs to push myself forward, I was using gravity and my hip flexor to throw my leg forward and then like you’d use your bicep to pull yourself up doing a chin up,  I’d use my hamstrings to pull myself forward!

This certainly explains why I kept pulling my hammies running the bases in my softball league.

Now when I go.for my walks, I’m concentrating on pushing off my.back foot. I can already tell I get more power and speed this way than I did just throwing my leg forward and pulling.

I just have to be conscious of it because if I don’t I notice I fall back into my old habit.

Always keep an open mind.

(Progress: Treadmilling 5k in 32:13. A PB.)


Junk Food Junkie

Yes, folks, I’m here to tell you I’m a junk food junky. Always have been, probably always will be.

Now let me tell you, I try, yes I do. I try to eat healthy, or at least healthier than I have, but there’s just a certain something about heavily salted snack chips that I find irresistible. 

As I’ve said, I’m down 20 pounds from a year ago, part of that is walking, and now running, and part of that is eating salad or something light for lunch. 

I’ll eat a big breakfast, essentially an English muffin, egg, bacon,  and cheese (a slice of Velveeta! I can hear the gasps from here) sandwich. And I’ll eat a good dinner. In between, I’ll have some pretzels, a fruit like an apple or cutie, and a salad, just lettuces and spinach–I no longer add cheese or croutons or bacon bits or other salad accessories–and a low fat, low calorie dressing like raspberry walnut vinaigrette. 

But come evening time, like the song says, I become a junk food junkie. I know I shouldn’t, but I get this craving for salt, for something crunchy, crispy, and flavorful. I’ve tried munching carrots or apples or raw broccoli, but none of that satisfies my craving.

So I grab a bag of chips, or sometimes a can of shoestring potatoes, and I go whole hog. Lately, I’ve been scarfing down Lay’s new flavors (damn you, Lay’s!), but my old standby is cheddar and sour cream.

I’ll polish off a bag in a couple nights. We’re looking at 160 calories and 10 grams of fat per ounce. In a 13 ounce bag. That’s 2,080 calories and 130 grams of fat in just a few nights! Considering a 3,500 calorie gain or loss equals a pound of fat, that extra 2,080 is putting the brakes on the weight loss.

I’d probably have lost an additional ten pounds by now if it weren’t for junk food.

Guess I just have to run faster and farther.

“But at night I’m a junk food junky, good lord have pity on me.”