Everything IS bigger in Texas

Writing in from the hotel computer in San Antonio this morning. This weekend was supposed to be my attempt at the Austin Half-Marathon--an attempt which has been been botched. We flew into San Antonio at 11:45pm on Friday and decided to stay, since there is unfortunately no reason to drive the 1hr 30min to Austin anymore.

So I'm torn this morning between being sad that I couldn't run today's race...which at this point I'd be two miles into...and being excited to be on vacation and far away from the stress of the work (which at this moment only seems to compound with every day at the office).

Anywho, I did see the orthopedic on Thursday. He said that everything looked fine from the MRI, x-rays, and his physical exam, which means that I should just rest my knee (which I have for a month) and try easing myself back into running. So I'm taking it slow...taking J's advice from a few weeks back. If that doesn't work, I'll be going back to the doctor for some PT.

I consulted my sister--a pharmacist--about my knee and she recommended a product called MonaVie. My sister is just as skeptical as I am about most products, especially drinks that claim to be cure-alls, but she said that she's had customers and friends heal remarkably well and very quickly just by adding this juice to their morning routine. So I might buy a bottle and see what it does. It apparently the drink is also infused with the joint-easing chemical combo of glucosamine and chondroitin. My one question is: if this is the miracle fruit, why did it take until 2007 to hit the general market?

One last update, this one on Footgate 2008--which I accidentally labeled 2008, not knowing at the time that it would carry over into this year. On Monday and Tuesday of this week my right foot has been particularly bothering me right where the glass had come in. On Tuesday night, I took a close look at it and found something. I noticed that there was something reflective inside the cut. I thought at first that it might be my skin just looking particularly waxy because there couldn't possibly be any glass in there, at least nothing noticeable, because the doctor poked around in there for a good 10 minutes and found nothing. But my wife convinced me to take a pair of tweezers to it anyway.

I pick at the shiny area to realize that it was, indeed, a chard of glass. It was about a quarter-inch long and about 1/16 of an inch in diameter. This thing was lodged in my foot for three months. I have run with this thing lodged in my foot and not even noticed. WTF. Super WTF? I didn't know the human body could do that. The next morning my foot was as good as it was prior to Footgate 2008--nothing hurt and nothing was swollen. But it still gives me the creeps that it was lodged in my foot for three months. Uck.


Technology overload

I am finally dealing with the technology overflow from Christmas: we got money for a new computer (loooong over due for a new one), I got a new iPod classic, and the wife got a new iPod nano.

We finally got the computer on Monday. I was so excited that I let wifey convince me to go all the way to her office to pick up the "heavy" box that contained the laptop. I get to her office to find a 1.5' x 2' box that weighs no more than seven pounds (6.7 lbs., per the package's label). Hmmmm. I ignore the bait and switch and rush to get home to open up the box.

I get home and immediately take a knife to the box. The answer to all my technological frustrations is in that box (or so I have convinced myself) and nothing will keep me from setting it up TONIGHT. Never mind that is 8:30 when we get home and we're both hungry. Dinner can wait.

I open the box to find the laptop in a styrofoam nest. It's not the MacBook I had fantazied about, but it is a faster and bigger computer than any of the affordable Mac products. I decide to name it Hacienda, the Spanish word for estate...since our one-bedroom apartment is as close to an estate as we'll get in the foreseeable future. I let it go through its start up programming while we eat dinner.

As if perfectly timed, the start up finishes as I have the last bite of dinner. I run over to plug in the wireless router. The router had been retired to a box when we moved to this apartment. For some reason when we moved our computer decided to not cooperate with the router anymore. I tried everything I could, and to be honest, we were too frustrated with the whole moving process to look into the matter more. So we bought a gazillion-foot cable, ran it behind two bookcases, over the front door, and down the side wall in order to connect the computer to the modem. Yes, it we were those people with the blue ethernet cable creeping up and down the wall--not the most elegant solution, but it worked.

My hopes with Hacienda were that the wireless router would magically work. No rationale for this really, except that Hacienda is a new computer and new computers always work. Yeah, faulty logical per usual.

I plug in the router. And for safe measure I restart the modem and Hacienda too . I cross my fingers and open up the wireless-finder-network-finder-thingie (I'm not too much of a tech head). Its there! Network "neato cheato" has been detected and Hacienda is connected to it! I type in the password and cross my fingers (my toes too, for good measure). I open up Internet Explorer and I see Google! Woo hoo! I am filled with a happiness that can only come from ending a year of wirelessness after having had it for years prior.

My first mission is to download iTunes so that I can start moving our music collection. I go to apple.com and it's not there. I get an error message that Internet Explorer can't find the page. Wait. We all know that's impossible. I check cnn.com, nothing. ABC.com, no dice. WTFiswrongwithmybrandnewcomputer.com, nada (although, upon further research I have found that that site really doesn't exist).

I tinker with the router and modem well into the night. At midnight I give-up, deciding that the router is busted. Defeated by something that seems to come so easily to everyone else, I go to sleep.

The next day during work I research routers (it's ok, I don't really have a boss right now). I find the AirPort Express from Apple. I've heard of it before, but now I am convinced that it is the miracle pill for Hacienda. I stop by the Apple store on the way home (one of the perks of working in SoHo). Turns out they're sold out and apparently so are the other two Apple stores in NYC. So there goes that. I go to Best Buy and buy a Linksys router recommended by a guy that looked like Chicken Little with a Jewfro who wasn't really paying attention to me.

I go home, thinking that this Linksys router should solve all my problems. And no luck. Once again, my computer can connect to it, but can't get to the internet through it. Sheesh--no luck!

So last night, I bit the bullet and just connected our gazillion-foot cable to Hacienda. Wow. Even without the convenience of wireless, Hacienda is one fast MoFo. I've been able to write this entire blog entry uninterrupted even though at one point I was moving files onto this computer with one iPod, syncing another iPod, and had music playing. Yes, this might seem trite, but my old dinosaur couldn't do that, it would have freaked out and frozen...much like these goats.

Today I will continue my odyssey. I'm going to Best Buy to return that POS. Then I'm having some serious chattage with my internet provider, my router's manufacturer, and/or Hacienda's manufacturer.

Oh, and for those of you wondering about the iPods: we have an active family of three now. Mine is an 80GB piece of ebony wonder impressively named Masahara Kuro--yeah, he's that cool. Wifey's is an 8GB red nano named Stella Rosso which might be nabbed for runs with my Nike+ (you know, for whenever I am able to run again). And then there's Liam Grau, who you've all met.

And on the knee front: I did an MRI yesterday. It was pretty cool--or as cool as being inserted into a giant magnet can be. The pictures are amazing: you really can see everything inside your body. Man, if this procedure didn't cost my insurance $2000 then I would totally frame these and hang them as artwork. But no, I have to take them to the orthopedic on Thursday for him to tell me what's going on in there.


Good news trifecta

Last weekend I was looking for good news. Could you blame me? I was battling a cold, had to withdraw from Austin because of my knee, and had a job in limbo. Well, here we are a week later, and I think I'm in a better spot across the board.

1. Coughing and congested all week, I am finally feeling 100% again. Perhaps it was the super spicy Chinese hot pot last night helped clear up anything that was left. I slept like a baby last night for the first time in six days. It was fantastic.

2. I got my refund yesterday from the Austin Half-Marathon. That was a bit of a downer. It means it's 100% official that I am out of the race. On the bright side, I went to the orthopedic yesterday and he said everything from his examination and the x-rays look fine. I have to set up an MRI for next week, but he's guessing that it's not any kind of major injury and can probably be treated with therapy and an anti-inflammatory. He also gave me a very spirited "our main goal is to get you running again." Sweeter words have never crossed the lips of a doctor. So there is a light at the end of that tunnel.

By the way, Thanks everyone for your help with the IT Band issues, especially Nikki and J. I'm starting to work these all into my routine...you know once I finally get back into one.

3. I have a job, but it was not as easy.

First, I had a second round interview at another agency since I still hadn't heard from my president on whether there would be work for me to do at my current place. I liked the new place well enough: it would be a nice little pay increase, it would be a different kind of client, and the team was really smart. I wasn't 100% sold, but I was mostly there. I talked to my recruiter afterward and she said that I essentially had the position but they needed to get budget approvals first. So I had to wait until Friday for a final word from them.

Second, out of the blue my boss's boss from my previous job calls me on Thursday and offers me my old boss's job. It would be a promotion and a significant raise. I would work with my old teammates, with the same client, for an industry that I already knew. I couldn't dream up a better situation to walk into. Sweet Jesus was that tempting. To be promoted to that level so early in my career is impressive, and the raise would be higher than most people could match. And nevermind that the benefits are great and the office is much closer to my apartment than my current place.

My hesistation to immediately say yes was that I left this agency because I wasn't happy with the environment. I need a place that I can look forward to coming into everyday, and I didn't have that anymore at my old agency. The pay was great, the people where great, but the client was slow and demanding, and the agency as a whole just felt stuck in it's place (it's kinda hard to describe unless you're in the industry).

Third, and also on Thursday, my president calls me in and says that he has finally secured business for me to work on. It would be a toy brand and I would have the lead on the account for the next few months while he found other people to work on it. Of course, this was great news, but also made for some serious decision making.

After many talks with many people, I had come to a clear choice and had a meeting with my president yesterday before lunch. I told him that given my choices I wanted to stay there because I enjoy working at the place and that fulfills my #1 priority. On the other hand, I had some pretty good offers on the table from other agencies and I would have to pass those up in order stay there. We talked through all my options and concerns and were able to come to an understanding that I'd continue to stay happy.

I left that meeting relieved that I had a job and that I didn't have to pack up my stuff. But on the other hand I was pissed off that I passed up the bigger pay and the higher title--God did that piss me off. So much so that every time I saw my president yesterday I didn't know whether I should give him a hug because he worked hard to find me a job quickly, or flick him off because he kept me from getting more money. The end result was a determined avoidance of the man for the rest of the day.

So that is the good news trifecta. I am much, much happier than this time last week. And, as some bonus good news, I just checked on our new computer and it arrived in Newark, NJ this morning from Shanghai (via Anchorage and Indianapolis)! It should be delivered by early this week, a couple days ahead of schedule! Woo hoo!

One last note: good luck to the people running for the golden ears, ducks, and dogs (I assume that's what Goofy is) this weekend in Disney! It is the most magical race in the world, so remember your cameras. Also remember to take your sleeping pills because you have to be asleep by 7pm to make the 2am wake-up call. Be strong Nitmos and Moon!



The doctor yesterday scared the bejesus out of me--as I guess is her job. As expected she told me to rest and to get an MRI (which means going to an orthopedic first). She said that if I kept on running I'd eventually tear the ligament, and to me (and hopefully all will agree) tearing anything inside your body is bad.

So I'm scared now about Austin. Essentially there is no way to run the race and even in my blind courage yesterday ("I will run-walk, crawl, shuffle, and/or hobble my way to the finish line, damn it") I didn't take into consideration that walking a Half-Marathon will just not feel right. Rather, it won't feel like a race and I'd always had an asterisk by it in my head. So I reached out to the race organizers and asked about deferring my entry. Hopefully there will be some way to recoup my entry fee. Unfortunately, at this point, I can't cancel the trip altogether because we bailed on our Texas friend last year when I scrapped Austin in 07 and I don't have the heart to bail on her again at the last minute.

Of course, this also jepardizes the rest of my running for 2008.

To make matters worse, I've gotten a cold. I could only sleep four hours last night and when I woke up this morning I was just a stuffy nosed, popped ears mess. I'm trying to make my way over to the gym to bike my way out of this rut, but just found out yesterday that we have friends in town this weekend...which means very little time to go to the gym.

Grrrrr and double grrrr. I could really use some good news right now.



No focus this morning, just some random thoughts/updates/ramblings:

  • Going to see my General Practitioner this morning about my IT Band in hopes of getting some help. I don't know how good her sports medicine skills are, but we'll find out today. I'll also ask her about active release, see if she knows anyone in the area that practices it. Hopefully she'll fix me up like she did after Footgate so that I can actually run Austin instead of walking it briskly.
  • My latest musical obsession: Feist of iPod and Verizon fame
  • We're buying a new computer this weekend!! Thanks to Santa Claus, we have funds to finally get a new machine. There will be much celebration when we finally toss this dinosaur, something along these lines.
  • Now that everyone is back in the office I can pick up where I left off before Christmas. The future looks pretty bleak for my current agency: I will be off my current client probably by the end of next week and they aren't sure where they can fit me after that. I let them know that I am close to getting an offer from another agency. Their response was actually supportive, they said if it is better than what they can offer me then they would encourage me to take the position. I know the offer will be better than what my current agency can offer, so my days there are numbered.
  • I'm trying to set up my race calendar for this year, so far, this is what I've got:
  • My thoughts on this race calendar:
    • If I can't run Austin, then I will run-walk, crawl, shuffle, and/or hobble my way to the finish line, damn it. I gave up my time goal a while ago, my goal now is to finish that race before it closes, which is a luxurious 4 hours.
    • The Great Bay HM is pending that I can get my IT Band fixed soon. Otherwise, I'll scrap it. I'm already committed to Austin, forcing myself through Great Bay would be craziness...although I have been called that on several occasions.
    • I have convinced my wife and her friend to run Fairfield with me--if you knew my wife you would be completely shocked--so I'm really looking forward to this race.
    • Since I'll be in the middle of marathon training in September, I figured a Half-Marathon would be a nice way to spice up the training (and get me out of the city).
    • Oh Marine Corps, you were my Plan B marathon last year--how foolish was I? This year I know to sign up the second registration opens.
    • If I go according to this plan I'll get four states and one federal district out of the way this year. Granted most of them are annoyingly small states, but Texas will be a nice big chunk of the map. The good thing about the New England states is that they are really easy and cheap to get to and can double as a weekend getaway.
    • San Francisco fell off my list because it was just not going to work out--awkward timing, expensive tickets, etc. But it will stay on my ever increasing list of races I plan to run.


A note to Iowan runners

Please remember to caucus today.

It's amazing how where you stand can change the fate of the world.


What am I doing about this IT Band?

J over at Lessons Learned While Running asked this question. I thought it was fair enough to offer up what I've been telling myself is the right thing to do:

-Rest: I haven't run since 12/26. I've only done upper body weights and the bike since then.
-Ice: putting an ice pack on the afflicted knee about twice a day since 12/30.
-Stretch: I've been trying this stretch, but find it really difficult to pinpoint that area while doing this.
-Changed surface: did a run entirely on grass/dirt, no change in pain. Treadmill and street runs hurt the same.
-Changed shoes: no help

As far as my history, the first time I got this pain was one week after MY FIRST MARATHON EVER. I did a cardio class that was entirely on a trampoline. I blamed the pain on the new exercise. Then there was Footgate with the tiny piece of glass getting lodged in my foot--so I didn't do any running for about two weeks. I was running normal for a few weeks there until one 10-mile run that I just couldn't get past mile three because of the pain. That flopped 10-mile run was on 12/15. Ever since then I can't get past three miles.

Any kernels of wisdom peoples?


Should auld acquaintance be forgot?

As seems appropriate, I woke up this morning determined to write a "looking back, looking forward" entry as I ice the hell out of my knee. So here are some resolutions, both running and secular, based on what I've learned in 2007 and want to accomplish in 2008.

1. Stop avoiding birthdays. Ever since I started living away from home I've taken that as liberty to skip on giving birthday presents to my family. It's a bad habit and that's why I'm ending it. So mom, sis, dad, etc., expect some presents from me along with those phone calls this year.

2. Get rid of this damned IT pain. Hopefully, this can be solved in the short term (i.e., the next 96 hours). But I have a sneaking suspicion that the pain probably stems from the regular abuse of running long distances. I spent the last 10 months of 2007 training for some half-marathon or marathon--this IT pain may be a sign to ease it up on the long distances and maybe introduce some 10Ks and trail races to the mix.

3. ...that said, it would be cool to break 1000 miles next year. In 2007 I logged 816 miles--which doesn't include running in January or February since I didn't start tracking my runs until March. Let's round up to 850 to account for Jan and Feb. If I didn't have Footgate back in Nov/Dec I would have at least hit 900. Increasing the mileage a measly 10ish% doesn't seem like a debilitating, pain-inducing goal.

4. ...that said, I have the unspoken goal of increasing my speed every year. And while 2007 wasn't a banner year for speed, it was one for endurance, you know, with MY FIRST MARATHON EVER! I set a crappy PR for 26.2, so speed at that level I hope won't be much of an issue. As for the Half-Mary, I was aiming to PR at Austin--but that relies on this damn IT band healing. I have my eyes on a few other Half-Marys this year with hopes of reaching an 8:00 min/mile pace or better.

5. Eat right. Good God, do I love to eat. Any food, any cuisine, day or night, sweet or savoy--although I'm a real sucker for the sweets. You know what it is that my wife got me a chocolate cooking class for Christmas in hopes of helping me achieve my life-long dream: opening a dessert restaurant of my own. Yeah, we're talking serious foodie here. This eating problem is one of the reasons I started running: so that I could eat whatever I wanted and not have to worry. But I've realized in the past year that if I want to improve my running/overall well being, that the diet has to change. So this is a resolution to eat that chicken salad instead of the steak and pomme frites, snack on those crackers instead of that cupcake, and for God's sake eradicate the ice cream from my freezer.

6. Apply some running discipline to our finances. 2007 was a recovery year after the major expenses of getting married and moving to a new apartment. And let's not even mention that I didn't quality for my company's 401(k) until today--yes, the company I may be leaving in the next few weeks. But as of right now, all the credit cards are paid off (including all the Christmas shopping) and we are in the black. Now it's time to get our save on.

7. Take more pictures. My wife got me a camera as her wedding present to me. The idea was to document our new lives together. Cute, I know. Even cuter was that she used the pictures I took during our first year together to create a photo album, which she gave to me as my anniversary present. What I've learned during the past year is that I like to take pictures...when I remember to take the camera. For most trips/events I just forget to pack the camera. So I bought a bag for the camera yesterday, and placed it near the door, in hopes of remembering it on the way out.

So here comes another year of running and trying to make the most of everything and anyone I am luck enough to have. Three, two, one...Happy New Year!