Thursday, December 20, 2012

to Orthopaedic Surgeon...

My last run was Friday 12/7. Only 3 miles after around a week of taking it easy... On that Sunday the 9th my knee pain prevented me from going 200 yds of my 6.5 mile training run. Ugh. Hopefully only a minor setback though, right?

I tried running again today after two weeks of being free from knee pain and I had to stop - again. This time after a half mile. My knee is clicking, at first I thought it was my shoelace or something - but it definitely is not. It is time to seek professional advice. This is really disheartening and I just turned 40! Salt in the wounds...

Well anyway, as a late birthday present I was able to secure a Dr's appointment with a sports medicine doc, a local orthopedic surgeon tomorrow! Yay! I'm so glad I don't have to wait a month to try to get some answers.

This certainly means I will need more time before running again which is terrible news. But I have to reaffirm to myself that my goal is to run for life, not just to train for Boston in April.

Fingers crossed this is not a major setback...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cool training plan technology

It has been killing me lately that I have not reached my goals for weekly mileage, speed training, etc. But, I do have to listen to my body and it is telling me to slow down. Fortunately the cool program at was able to adapt and adjust my training plan to suit where I am right now with my running.

I toned down my weekly mileage from 26 to 16, which is accurate. I turned off the speed work at the track and added an easy run instead of a threshold run each week. Now:

  • Sunday - long run
  • Monday - off
  • Tuesday - pace run
  • Wednesday - cross/swim
  • Thursday - easy run
  • Friday - easy run
  • Saturday - cross

This looks great it is exactly what I needed to preserve my motivation and dynamically modify my routine. I am going to aim for slowly increasing my mileage once again. And, even more important, I am excited again! Instead of a mega speed workout at the track today, which I might have skipped/avoided I now .75 warm up  .75 cool down and an uptempo 3 mile run in between. I think I can handle that!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trying to get back on the horse

It is taking longer than I thought. I don't know what happened between my great time in the half-marathon and trying to up my mileage to prepare for a marathon. I guess I knew it would be hard, but my body seems to be letting me down.

I have probably tried to move too fast in adding speed work. I am slowing down and trying to run about 75-80% of my planned mileage starting today. Looks like my schedule has a light week this week, so I will follow it and see how I feel for my long run on Sunday. This past Sunday was the first time I've missed doing any miles on Sunday and hopefully represents just a single low point on my road to recovery!

4 miles today, ran in my Newtons. Probably shouldn't have changed my shoes :( my hip flexors were getting sore at the end, but not too bad. My right foot went numb though, felt like I only had a club for a foot. I don't remember that feeling since my first ever 5k a few years ago which I didn't train for at all. Sucked, I had to walk for a few and it started to go back to normal. At the end of my run, it immediately felt fine. Not sure what happened, but definitely tried to go back to my Newtons too soon.

I'm stuck now, should I continue to try to integrate those shoes? Or just wait until after 4/15 and then use them for recovery and new training? That is where I am leaning now. However, I want to be able to run with the lack of pain/discomfort that are the promise of Newtons -- just that right now it is not working out.

Tomorrow 5.5 miles, I'll take it easy and train in the Klonky Brooks Adrenalines. Hard to complain though, they do work....

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Week off to recover

Listening to my body, felt all out of whack last week, I was probably running too fast, moving to my new Newtons too fast, running too far, not rested enough... or something. But my body was telling me it didn't feel good so it was really hard but I took a week off!

Also at some point last week I ran out of one of my meds for a couple days. I have since refilled it and one of my trouble spots - sore hips on waking up, is gone. The whole experience left me feeling out of balance, like one foot was striking harder than the other, one hip was more sore, opposite knee was sore... So I started to go to a Chiropractor this week. Couple visits, a nice adjustment to my neck, and going over the X-Rays. I'm not sure I buy this 100% but I am giving it a shot. The X-Rays showed my lumbar spine was twisted, rotated slightly and off center. My cervical spine was straight, none of the expected curve - maybe from too much computer time. And some temperature measuring devices looking for differences between one side of the back of my neck to the other. I dunno that seems kinda like voodoo to me, I am not buying it either.

For a few hours after the adjustment to my neck I felt great though, normally I can tilt my head slightly to one side and crack it, which helps for like 30 seconds.... This lasted a few hours, but it is back to where it was before now. I am going back tomorrow.

I am firing back up my core workouts and running though and I am pretty excited. It is a whole new season up here outside Boston - I'm 5 miles from Marathon start - and I love running in cooler weather. It is clearly a LOT easier on my body neurologically than the heat.

For a week or so I am going off the training routine and just going by the miles. No speed workouts, tempo or threshold running for now. I hope I can get back to those after 7-10 days. Also I think it is critical that I stop skipping the Swim/Wednesday and Bike/Saturdays...

Friday, October 26, 2012

New goal: Boston

A lot has happened in the short few weeks since my half marathon. I have to keep going back to the feeling of completing the race in goal time for motivation...

I started using after my friend Scott and his wife recommended it to me. At the same time I decided to get serious about training for the Boston Marathon. The starting line is only a few miles away and I will be 40 next year, so why not?!

Not sure if I've discussed my plan to try to secure an official number in the marathon. So here they are:

  1. Sponsorship from Biogen - my neighbor is former marketing director for Avonex, the drug I am on. He said he would bring it up with his replacement and try to create some momentum. I haven't seen him for a month, so no progress there.
  2. Available bib from a soccer mom on my son's team that I coach. Talked to her two days ago, she asked about #1 and I said nothing yet. So she is going to ask her friend if I can have the number. Fingers crossed!

My new plan includes a few challenges. Speed workouts on Tuesdays, swimming training on Wednesdays and biking on Saturdays. I have done the speed workouts and they are fun, but this last one left my knee sore. I ran on it last night and it doesn't feel worse for the wear. Went back to my Brooks instead of the Newtons - the Newtons are challenging for some reason. I really want to improve my form. I think I need to go back to Danny Abshire's book on Natural Running Form and start in on the strength exercises full time.

I am doing good on core exercises, though I slowed down from 5-6 times per week to 2-3. I need to pick that up to keep the good core I've worked for.

Supposed to find time to run 6 today. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Half Marathon: Complete

All of my hard work and preparation started to really come through in the last mile of my half marathon yesterday. I was surprisingly emotional for the last half mile or so, I actually started crying. I was just so happy my training had paid off, I felt good, I had conquered obstacles and I was about to fulfill my goal time! It was the greatest and one of the strangest feelings I've ever had. I was thinking of my wife and son there waiting for me at the line. About my MS and heart issues. I was thinking how great it was that I was picking up the pace to about 8:14 to close it out. I started to feel massive waves of emotion, I was so happy I think I had a big smile and tears were welling up. I crossed the clock at 2:00:55 and knew I was probably just under 2:00!

I think I am officially addicted to running.

Still, aiming for the Boston Marathon in April feels a little daunting but after the last 3 months of training I'm sure the right program will get me there. But that is the future! First, my big accomplishment!

The rain and drizzle kept increasing as we moved a few miles from the start, temperatures in the 50s and all-in-all perfect running weather -- except for the water-logged shoes and big puddles. Running in a big pack vs all my other runs solo was a difficult change. I was running at around a 9:00 pace after slightly faster first 3 miles, but it seemed like I was always being passed. Just a side effect of starting too near the front of the race I guess, I'll know better next time.

It was hard to keep motivated and at pace during the middle miles, especially on long straight sections vs the small twisty hilly streets where I couldn't see past the next 30 or so people. But once we turned the last section onto the coastal rode I could feel my adrenaline kick in. I forced myself to keep the same pace for a couple miles saying I would only try to kick after 12. Plan worked pretty good my last mile point 3 was probably at 8:20 pace!

So mission accomplished, I am relishing in the feeling for a few days then will start in on something new for a few weeks, probably adapting to my Newtons and improving my running form. So far only my right hip flexor is more sore than I think it should be. Rest of my body is equally sore on both sides, but only in a 'I just gave it my all' way.

Here is my garmin map showing pace and all that for the race:

Friday, September 28, 2012

2 days to half marathon

So much running, so little time to blog!

School started and so did soccer for my son. I'm the coach so there goes one afternoon, soccer is mostly at 2pm so there goes another whole day! Ok, enough of that, onto the running which is my reason for the blog!

Since it has been almost three weeks my major update has to be that I managed to complete the entire training program and all that is left is the half-marathon! I have been feeling for weeks that I will not be able to make my goal of a 2:00 marathon. Most of my long runs are like 10:20-10:40 minutes/mile. I can run faster, but I tire out quicker - no big surprise, right? My friend is encouraging me, saying that the taper-down at the end of the program will help and I should be able to run 30 seconds faster easy. I dunno, I certainly don't feel like it - I am at the point where my mind may be my worst enemy. Which would be different - I am an optimist, and i'm confident in my running ability. For some reason running faster than what I settled into for my long runs is harder. Maybe it is just because I am racking up more miles weekly than ever before.

I keep going back and forth on whether I should set my goal lower, or start slow and finish faster, or try to stick to one pace. I suppose I am going to go by feel on the day of the race. It looks like it will be cold and rainy - not bad running weather! My pace for 2:00 should be 9:09 minutes/mile - I managed to do a few runs at that pace, 3 or 5 miles and even faster for a 2 miler this past Wednesday.

Since this is my blog and relates to my health challenges - here is the latest. My MS is doing good, losing weight and getting fitter have been everything I've hoped  they would be - I just feel great most of the time, and not suffering any fatigue. My spasticity and parasthesia have been firmly under control, no balance problems, no vision problems with intense exercise - remember, when I didn't know I had MS I couldn't play soccer at times because my eyes felt like they were crossed. That, thankfully, was resolved in the first steroid treatment.

On top of the MS I have another concern that is back up on my radar. Since birth I have had a heart defect - a bicuspid aortic valve. So where normally there are three 'leaflets' closing the heart valve and preventing blood from leaking back in, I only have two. So there is a gap and a leak - the heart murmer I've had since childhood. Now, as a good parent who realizes he has to take care of himself - now more than ever. I have been seeing my cardiologist yearly. But this most recent year he was concerned. The valve diameter has increased from 4.7 to 5.0 cm. This is caused by an aneurysm, which is thinning of the walls of the heart. What the hell! I met my quota of medical conditions, no more please! He is not concerned, just wants me back in 3 months, no need to change my exercise patterns...

Hoping for a good run on Sunday, and that I will surprise myself. I have to remember to be happy to finish either way, it is 13.1 miles after all!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Surprisingly good week!

I never thought I would be able to say at the end of my short runs for the week - that I feel great!

Sunday I ran 10 miles in 1:43 and that felt great, I even pushed my last mile and it was the fastest mile of the ten, so I was feeling really good. Tired, a little sore, but no real knee or plantar pain. What a great feeling :).

The next day is where I ran into several problems and learned some lessons that I will not be in a rush to repeat. This was Labor day but my Avonex nurse was coming out to help me with the Avonex Pen for the first time. The past few months I was using the pre-filled syringe and manually injecting. I had done one, with problems, last week after just viewing the video. I didn't get the needle on tight enough and when I turned the injector over to get it ready for my leg... the needle dropped onto the floor! Needless to say I couldn't use that needle, so I did the injection using one of the other packages the next day.

She went over the usual, mostly I knew what to do already, did the injection and took two Advil. Still felt good, the shot was completely painless, I almost didn't know if it had gone in until I took out the injector and saw the needle. I capped it and made notes to self:

  1. contact biogen to try to get a new syringe for my 4th week instead of refilling the script early
  2. order a new sharps container that has pre-labelled shipping
Next on the agent, short hike with kids and dogs. Sister and two dogs, wife and son, friends and their twins and one dog. We were a pack! This was a good 2.5-3 mile hike in Upton State Forest, obviously we took it slow because of all the kids and dogs. But the 2nd half was purely uphill. I was starting to feel it in my legs. Back at the car I was wiped, and started to feel hot. Temp was spiking from the shot, seems to be harder to get under control than the Rebif was, and not only that - once home (temp 100.1) it kept going up even after taking 2 Tylenol. After 40 minutes I checked again (temp 103.9) and took 2 more Advil. About 1.5 hours after that it started to subside.

Well, two important lessons in my blog post of lists:

  1. pre-medicate and post-medicate vigorously and possibly the next day
  2. don't do a 3 mile hike on an off-day after a 10 mile run
That ends my lessons for self!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another update

It is really good news that I've worked out my kinks from the previous few weeks. All last week and so far this week I am feeling nag-free! Especially great since I ran my furthest - 9 miles on this past Sunday. Here let's see if I can paste it in from garminconnect.

I ran into a friend on my 9 mile run and would have liked to stop but instead I just kept running, I was in the zone! I'm sure she understands.

So, on the negative side I am still fighting with occasional flare-ups of the MS. They are coming in two different angles. First, my back parasthesia is sometimes problematic, but this seems to be almost 100% related to lack of sleep. Which is odd because I sleep well, but I'm pretty busy and usually up too late reading a book... The other is also parasthesia which is affecting my arms and hands. The way I would describe is that it feels like my hand or arm is wet, when it is not! It's discomforting and worrisome, but not completely unexpected - it is just the way the disease works.

I have formally registered for the half at the end of September. One more piece of motivation I can use. Although I don't need much at this point, the fact that I just ran 9 miles is enough! I'm very proud of myself and feel like I am winning my battle. Not much on the barefoot running front as far as combating parasthesia/pain in my feet, but foot massage balls revitalize my feet and relieve some pain. I am sticking with them for now.

Post half-marathon I will try to incorporate some trail running in my Merrell barefoot shoes - but that is still some 6 weeks away!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Long run day

Longest run today - 8 miles. Still on pace for half marathon end of September. New shoes felt great, same as the old shoe, but after 225 miles they were making my right knee feel a little sore. Today, mild soreness in the middle of the run but when i picked up my cadence it went away!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mid-August slump

Last Tuesday I ran 7 miles in fairly hot humid weather and I felt great! Followed up with shorter runs during the week and was hoping to be ready for 8 on Sunday. However, when I got out on the road on Sunday I just didn't feel right. I turned it around at 1.5 miles and settled for a 3 mile day.

My legs were tight and sore, my left plantar fascia was acting up, my right quad was stiff... All seemed to indicate to me that I should slow down. So, in order to motivate myself, and possibly even as a solution to my nagging spots I went over to Marathon Sports in Wellesly, MA to get new shoes.

Talking to my best friend who is an avid runner on vacation I thought I would look at a pair of Newton running shoes as we noticed I have a fairly good midfoot strike and generally good running form. My old Brooks Adrenaline's were noticeably worn on the forefoot and I certainly felt like I wasn't getting the cushioning they originally had.

Maybe that is part of the reason I'm feeling a bit worn down, or maybe the mileage increase - who knows! But I have to eliminate some variables and find out if I need time off... or, hopefully, just new shoes.

So I ended up with a pair of Newton Motions and a new pair of the current year version of my old shoe. The idea is to put in a few miles a week in the Newtons because they will be different and will require time to adjust. From my garmin foot pod I can see that I have a cadence of 172 to 176 which is pretty good - one of the objectives of minimalist running is to get up to 180 so I don't have a lot of work, just have to focus on being light on my feet. I expect the Newtons to help as long as I am working at it slowly.

They are also pretty cool looking!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Full month of running

Things are going well as far as running. I upped the pace and hills last week while running with my friend Scott in Maine. Even though we were on vacation and running through the hills, kept it fast and pushed myself. It really makes a big difference to have someone pushing you harder. I loved it and hated it!

Twelve runs for the month of July for a total of 44 miles and 2,400 ft elevation gain. Thanks to and my new watch for give me fun figures and gadgets to motivate me. There are not as many cool colors and icons as nike+ but I love having the convenience of just a watch, no headphones, armband with iPhone and bounciness in my ears. I still like to run with music so I will continue to try to find the perfect headphones.

I'm looking to keep increasing my distance in August and push it hard to be ready for the half marathon at the end of September. I still haven't registered though.

Friday, July 20, 2012

10k wrap-up, blisters and the last month

I finished my first 10k which I am quite proud of! Unfortunately I started out at too fast a clip and bonked after 3 miles :( My plan was to run at nice slow 9:50 pace, what actually happened was quite different! I ran   out at 8:20 pace with the over-enthusiastic crowd and felt good for a few miles on a massively humid 85 degree evening. I bonked at three miles and walked for about a 12 min pace in the middle mile. Then I felt a bit better, but still defeated by the heat. My body was overheating, I had chills down my back - thank you to my MS... I finished up at around 10:20 for the last two miles for a total of 61:00. I am happy with that, I now have run two races recently and gone out too fast and hit the wall. The heat probably doesn't help.

Now, back to my feet. After a month and a lot of bandages and 2nd skin, they are back to normal. I have adapted my barefoot plan to simply incorporate more minimalist running, stretching and foot massage and exercises to increase foot strength. Foor massage with those spikey little balls rolling under my feet are a miraculous cure for my foot discomfort. Actually reducing the feelings of numbness and tingling.

I purchased a pair of Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves but they didn't fit right, too big. Returned - but none in my size. I settled on a pair of Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon TLS shoes. They are fun and should increase my barefoot running abilities. There are a full set of exercises I am supposed to do for two weeks before trying any running I will start next week on vacation!

I also bought a new GPS watch - Garmin Forerunner 610 and heart monitor. Still adding to my runs since moving to instead of nike+ but in the long run I will have a very objective measure of my health based upon course, heart rate and pace. Additionally I am able to increase the effectiveness of my workouts and minimize impact on my legs from running too hard when there is no aerobic benefit. Ie. working in Zone 4 instead of Zone 3 on normal pace runs.

I am in week two of my Hal Higdon half marathon training plan. I had originally subscribed to the iPhone app, but I find I am a lot more comfortable without headphones and my iPhone strapped to my arm - it was mostly the strapped to arm but I disliked.

In any case I am having tons of fun running - and with my new gadgets. Gadgets make the world go round for me, so I've found my motivation and am sticking to it.

Finished three months of Avonex therapy and I can confidently say it is working out better than Rebif so far. The side effects are less noticeable, I'm sure this is due to the smaller weekly dosage. But it is working and no need to change what is working. It is no fun to sit there with a needle and stick it into my quad, but it is short and usually painless - but not always bloodless. I relish the times where the blood boils up out of the puncture because it justifies my hesitation sitting there with the needle poised a few inches above my leg. Then I look at the blood, silently damn it to hell, and wipe it away. Sometimes where there is no pain or blood I am left empty and bitter!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I was feeling good on my short run on Saturday so I took off my shoes and ran the last .5 miles home. Apparently my foot parasthesia prevented me from receiving good feedback on my form during the last 1/2... My feet ended up with huge blisters and I have been out of commission since.

Today, I can walk with barely any pain, so that is nice.

Perhaps it will not give me feeling back in my feet after all :). But. I am not ready to give up yet. Next time I will try to focus more on the feedback from my soles and work on being lighter on my feet.

One week until 10k at Gillette! I should be well rested if anything!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


All was going well until I sliced my right middle toe open! Noticed my toe hurting right at the end after running across 6 lanes barefoot :( I guess that was a bad idea... Looked at the bottom of my foot and a dime size flap of skin was ripped off the bottom of my toe. Under it, a nice jagged rock! Felt better after removing the rock. But, I guess I need some minimalist footwear.. or to be careful where I am putting my feet, or not cross those wide main streets in Sunnyvale...

My legs feel BETTER after getting out of my hiking boots. I am going to get a pair of trail minimalist shoes. I tried on some Merrell Trail Glove shoes at some big sports store in San Jose. Almost bought them, but they were $110 and I'm still not sure where I am going with my barefoot quest...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

adding a barefoot mile to my runs

Almost bought a pair of Merrel Trail Gloves today because I want to be able to run further in barefoot mode, you know, with a forefoot strike and curling up my toes to absorb the impact. But, I decided I would just work on a month or so of just adding in a barefoot run into my normal run routine. This should help me slowly build up strength in my crammed dead toes.

I just can't see being able to run except if I take it slow. And  though I want to improve my form, I just can't do it in my Brooks Adrenalines. I have to lean too far forward to forefoot strike with these things on. But I don't want to start over because I am aiming for my first 10k on July 3rd. So I have two weeks to keep going, then a few weeks before half-marathon preparation time.

The previous two days I wore my Merrel light hikers and have been suffering from lower back pain until taking two blue Alleve's earlier. I noticed some knee pain as well. I just decided to wear my running shoes into the office.

Right now I am in Sunnyvale, CA and there are supposed to be a lot of nice trails around, I have at least found a nice clay trail in the Sunnyvale Baylands park, the trail is only about a mile loop. No worries there though, today I am scheduled to do a 5 mile run, I am going to make it 4 + 1 mile in barefeet. I'll just loop around a few times!!

Yesterday was the first time I tried running barefoot. I actually took off my shoes, put 'em at the bottom of a tree and took off around the park. It was harder to run on the thick grass than the clay trail and my feet felt a little funny.  With the parasthesia in my feet, I am going to discover a new normal if I keep this up. I am also hoping to improve my balance and maybe see if I can't force my body's damaged nerves to re-route because I now require more feedback from my feet?

Who knows, maybe it will work, there is nothing else to fix my feet because of my MS, I actually have a lesion on my spinal cord which I think is affecting my feeling in my feet. That and multiple scars in my brain are what I have for damage from MS so far, and what I have lost I have mostly gained back. So why not improve sensation in my feet as well?

Looking forward to getting back home with my family and my son, who is now 8 and wants to go barefoot with m!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A new adventure!

I was thinking about how I could log my experience as I enter into a new era of my own physical well-being and remembered I already have a blog!!

So, I want to set this up to tell the story as it happens. I need to fill in some background so that my quest is understood - continue to run, bike and be active while reducing pain and hopefully eliminating pain from MS symptoms. The big adventure is to try to incorporate barefoot running into my routine and see if it is able to reduce or eliminate the pain in my feet that I have had since months before my final diagnosis.

Feet: they are in a constant state of mild pain, burning sensation, it seems like sitting, tight shoes or just going through a day make them worse. Culminates in me lying in bed with a couple degrees more discomfort in my feet and looking forward to falling asleep. They feel better in the morning, or else I just am not thinking about it as much and barely notice. Clearly I am able to block out the ongoing pain for short periods. But, it would be nice if it was not there... This is known as parasthesia and it totally blows.

Legs: my legs are tight, I think they always have been, but the MS has pushed it to new levels. Usually once a year I need to start 6-8 weeks of PT to develop the ability to stand up straight without stiff and sore legs. Legs get sore when they are stiff for so long. I felt this acutely after my last relapse in '09. After a week of steroids my leg stiffness subsided but I was in a lot of pain - my tendons ached from being under stress for months. This is known as spasticity and it totally blows.

Running: Last year I started to bike and it was great. This year I have started to run and it is (now) great. It took a while to get comfortable, find the right gear, slowly ramp up the miles. But now I am running regularly and it makes me feel good inside. When I first started I always had hints of plantar fasciitis and shin splints. I just took it slow and a day off when needed. I try to ice my heels and shins when they are sore and it is very helpful. I am looking at better, safe, ways to ice my legs after runs. Maybe I will include that in here when I find something to try....

I am up to about 10 miles per week using a Hal Higdon 10k training plan. My next race is July 3rd at Gillette and it will be my first 10k. So far this year I have run two 5k races. Both were much better times than my no-training run last year. From 36 minutes in 2011 to 25:15 in my first race of the year this year. My second 5k came in at 27:25. Yes, I bonked on this one. I actually ran a really fast mile and a half though, 10:30 so about 7 minute miles. But then came hills and I had to walk a bit. Depressing but a lesson learned.

My next adventure is going to be barefoot running. I am interested in all the hype and want to give it a try. Nice thing about it, no gear required! It sounds like there are a lot of advantages and after reading a bit here and there I have started the best-selling Born to Run book and maybe it can improve my fitness, running form, and reduce the pain in my feet? Maybe, maybe not, but I may actually be the first one to try!