2018, not the year I wanted, but the year I deserved…


I spent quite a few years (most of my adult life) not taking care of myself properly. That is not to say I didn’t exercise, actually quite the opposite, I drove myself harder than I should have, much harder. I pushed through numerous injuries, I didn’t listen to physical therapists, I blew off treatment.

In 2016 it caught up with me. Like screeching halt, smashing into a brick wall, full stop. I had no choice but to go through a couple of corrective surgeries, a long period of physical therapy and I spent almost an entire year off the bike, not running, not lifting, and not even swimming. 2018 was the year that followed. I had the last surgery in April, and after a very careful year of therapy and strenghtening, I managed a little more than 700 miles on the bike, and the first runs I’v been able to do since 2016. I am very cautiously optimistic for 2019.

cycling pushbikes

Saturday Night Funtime

I have to say that I feel kinda bad about wearing my “Belgian the fuck up”socks for an indoor ride, but it is winter in Texas, so suck it. I also bought a heater for the pain cave. 🙂 It’s about 37 degrees here, which is cold enough to be legit cold, but not enough to make the humidity drop, so it’s spirit crushingly cold. For reals. My buddy from the Canadian Army in Manitoba says the coldest he’s ever been in his life was in Texas.

Carson -3 TrainerRoad

This was a good ride, I can definitely feel my strength coming back on, I have a ramp test scheduled for the 8th and I feel like I’ll go up considerably. I wouldn’t say this workout was easy, but I was never in any type of crisis or duress. Though if done at a lower cadence and doing stomps at the beginning of each interval as Chad suggests, I think it would be considerably more challenging.


That felt like running…only slower…

Strava mapJust 2 miles…

Hoka One One Mach

My run last night was pretty hard from an RPE standpoint. My heart rate never went way up, but my legs felt heavy and my form honestly sucked. The whole thing felt very labored and lacking in smoothness. I kept telling myself though that I felt very much the same when I first got back on the bike. The smoothness and ease I was accustomed to wasn’t there, but it came back quickly enough. I think honestly I just went back to back a little too soon, I just felt fatigued. I would pick up a good pace then my legs just didn’t want to lift my feet up, and I would drop my arms and before I even realized it I was shuffling. In hindsight I should have seen that my form was off, and that’s always been a recipe for getting hurt. I seem to have survived unscathed, and I’ll chalk it up to a “return to running” lesson, it has been a while after all.

Body parts.

My knee is troubling me today, I could feel that it was a little stiff during my run last night, but it didn’t seem any worse really than the other two runs, so I kind of disregarded it. This morning it’s hurting along the left front inner side, kind of between my knee cap and shinbones. It’s a little sensitive to the touch there as well. This is in keeping with the bruising I developed a few years ago when I initially injured it, so it’s something to keep an eye on. It hurt a bit more coming down the stairs than when walking on flat ground, and I remember reading something about that being significant with knee injuries. My right calf is more sore than my left, and I think that’s from my leg being stiff when I ran last night, putting more emphasis on that muscle, which is probably contributing overall. I may let it go another couple of days before I run again.

My lower back has been what I would say is best described as “tight” the last few days, maybe ten days overall. It isn’t painful, it just feels like it needs to pop. This is centered right above my left hip, low down on my back, maybe toward where the bottom of my kidney would be. There is a slight twinge that carries from there kind of out to the outside of my hip, and down across my sit bone. Further evidence of the need to ease back into this running thing. I don’t think it’s “injured” I think it’s just letting me know it’s there, and that I should proceed with caution.

I did a little easy yoga both before and after I ran, though afterward was pretty weak, really more of a light stretching session. I focused on my lower back and hips, but I didn’t do any time in the pigeon, which always seems to open up my hips when they are tight. I probably should have.

Tonight is “Mount Field” on TrainerRoad, and I may work in some resistance band time to focus on hip and knee strength before hand to maybe ward off either of these maladies becoming more serious.


So…I ran…

I ran. For the first time in 21 months. I had all but given up the idea of running anymore, and I was really ok with the whole thing, but this last round of surgery ad especially physical therapy was so successful that I started thinking…maybe…

So I waited til I was feeling rather strong, I bought new shoes (Hoka One One, I’m now a believer…) and last night I set out with the idea of running at least two miles but with a stretch goal of three.

Sträva screenshot

I ended up having to do the run-walk-run thing, but I did finish 3 miles. It wasn’t my cardio conditioning that let me down, my right knee was hurting a  bit, as I would have expected it to, and my quads were saying “dude…this is the roughest pedaling you’ve ever done…”. 

The main thing is that I enjoyed it. A lot. I’m cautiously optimistic that I will be able to make it a part of my routine again, and for that I am exceedingly pleased. I’ve always enjoyed running, but hated the process of running. I really enjoy the freedom, and the simplicity compared to the bike, but I hated the way it felt to get to a point where I was well enough conditioned that ever run wasn’t a test of survival. For a large part of my life, running five to ten miles a day was a very normal thing. It’s hard to be a paratrooper and not a runner you know. Once I injured my hip the first time, I started falling behind the curve, and like when you lose the wheel of a faster rider in a race you just start falling further and further behind until you just accept that you’re not going to make it back into the group. Thats very much what it felt like, and then adding to it my subsequent injuries that made it effectively impossible to run until they were surgically repaired, it was just one of things I put on the shelf with the rest of the “can’t do it anymore” things. 

Anyway, it was one run, and it was slow, but I enjoyed it, and I’m actually looking forward to the next one, and I haven’t said that in a very long time. 



Getting older but better

Observations on age and improvement…like wine but less red…

It wasn’t that long ago that I could ride 300 miles a week, drink hard on Friday and Saturday nights and still knock back a century on Sunday. Those days are over. Definitively, and for many reasons. I’ve had a few real and long lasting injuries in the last few years, thankfully not related to cycling. I say thankfully because injuries incurred from the bike usually bring to an end your riding. In my case as they were occupational injuries, once I had the requisite surgery to do the repair, riding the bike was recommended to me as my recovery method.

When i got back on the bike post surgery this May, I had to accept that I was essentially a beginnng cyclist. While I might have the wits and bikesmarts of an experienced rider, I definitely didn’t have the body. The legs were weak, the lungs were tight, and even my back and neck were barely up to the task. It’s been four months now, and something like 70 rides, and I’m feeling a lot more like my old self. I’m still slow, relatively speaking, and my endurance sucks, also relatively speaking, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Progress is obvious to those around me, and it cant be hidden from the scale, the power meter or the training log. My weight is down over 29 pounds, my FTP is already up 30 watts from my January threshold power test, and all my clothes are loose. In my fact my uniform, that I wear every day, barely stays on me right now.

As I’ve previously pointed out, I’m a recently self admitted data geek. I kinda feel that at 45 years old, I don’t really have the time to chase rabbits down unknown trails during training, I kinda need something of a sure thing. By measuring my performance on a regular basis, I can redirect as needed to keep progressing. I’ve always tracked my rides, and logged my miles, but I never really worked it into any kind of holistic training regimen. I just did what my legs felt like and pushed as hard as I could all the time. Using the old F.I.T. Acronym, I pushed frequency to every day, Intensity to 11, and Time to all day.

In the last four months, I’ve followed a much more carefully planned strategy, more time conservative, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve seen better improvement than I would have using my old methodology. I used the TrainerRoad guys plans as a base, and built my weeks around total Training Stress, working in aerobic stuff for weight loss on my commutes, and harder more structured stuff (anaerobic, and HIT) during my at least two trainer rides a week. One of the best decisions I’ve made in years was investing in the Wahoo KICKR last December. I bought it in anticipation of being broken for a while post surgery, and that was definitely the case. What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy structured workouts on it. Lately I’ve been que’ing up a TrainerRoad workout, putting some first person cycling video on the big TV in front of my trainer, and jamming some appropriate music while I ride. I’ve got a pretty good sound system in the garage, so I can really blast it.

I’m about to start working in two short, easy runs a week to channel some of my cardio fitness into the things I have to do for the army, but personally, its all about the bike. The oldest boy is loving his mountain bike, and he’s been riding a lot himself, so I’m looking forward to being able to do some real rides with him in the spring time. Maybe Pablo Duro canyon, and something kind of epic. A year ago I didn’t really think that would be possible.

Things are looking up.


In the eyes of others

Ive been thinking lately about the need to get my riding back on track, if for no other reason than I’m turning into a large mammal. As significant as that is, it’s really secondary to my bigger concern, it’s mostly for my mental health. I’ve definitely felt the impact of not riding in my state of mind. I haven’t had the lows I get in a big training cycle when I miss a ride, but I have been kind of “meh” about everything else. So no highs either, you know.

I did 20 minutes on the trainer the other night and it felt like a stage of Le tour when I was done, but it broke the ice, now is the time to get out there on the roads, and go like a real boy. I think I’ll do an hour or so today, nothing crazy and nothing off road other than the trails to get through places.

I read an essay yesterday where the author was discussing how he felt that real life begins after fifty. He made many cases for his stance, but a few things stuck with me over the others.

  1. You care less what other people think. This is one of the most concrete facts for me that I wish I could get my kids to understand and believe.
  2. There isn’t a point a where the tap turns off. Society would have us believe that we’re just done with life at 40 or whatever, and that after that you’re just waiting to die.

I’m 45 and from the neck up at least I feel better than I ever did. I understand things so much better now than I did when I was younger. The trick is to bring the body into line with the head, and then keep it there as long as possible. Certainly there is an inevitable decline, but as I’m not competing with anyone else (see 1. above), I only have to answer to myself. If I feel I’m working hard enough, and seeing the results I want, then I’m happy. It’s that simple.

My new boss is over 50, he made sure we all knew that on his first day. While he’s certainly kind of a knucklehead, he’s also a smart, vibrant guy. He seems very different from those were accustomed to, and I know that some of the younger leaner guys see him as out of touch and less “aggressive” than they think he should be, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s very much aware of what’s going on around him, he is simply unconcerned with their opinions. I’ve seen this several times before with leaders I’ve worked with, and I’ve come to realize that most of the time, they just don’t care what you think of their style. They’ve found what works for them, and as you don’t write their performance reviews, your opinion of their style is pretty low on the list of things they care about that day.