Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knee Update: Two Paths, Two Men, Two Days

After weeks and months of babying my knee, not walking, sticking to the fake bike I finally went back to my doctor. It hurt to walk, it was painful to do the fake bike and the only relief I really had was swimming and I was miserable and irritated. What followed were two visits over two days, with two different men and two vastly different experiences.

My first was with a doctor at a facility we'll call "Keyser Medical" my doctor is a pretty decent guy, and so I figured the knee 'expert' would be also as nice. I was wrong. I walked in, he had me lie down, did a cursory exam of my legs, asked me where the pain was. (This is so infuriating, because the pain was inside the knee, and he kept asking me to point to it - uh unless you have a needle and xray vision I'm not going to be able to do this buddy!) He then sat me up, took a quick glance at old x-rays from months ago, and read over the notes that my other doctor and PT had put in. I told him how running had helped me lose weight, was great exercise, how I hadn't run before this and had pretty fresh knees since I wasn't a guy that ran in high school or anything. He nodded and kept reading the story, then proceeded to tell me "the sooner you accept the fact that you can't run again, the better off you will be" I was so stunned I didn't say anything at first. I'm a polite guy, but when someone offends me I usually have some sort of retort available. I think I stammered out an "excuse me, I've been running for only two years, how the heck are you telling me my running stint is over?!"
He then went on about cartilage damage, how damaging running is how maybe if I babied my knees I'd be able to run short distances, but not the longer distances of a half or full marathon. I was shocked, then incredulous and finally, furious.

This Hatebreed song = my feelings after seeing the Dr. "Burn their lies! Their words of ignorance!"

I asked him for an MRI and he dismissed my request outright, going so far as to say "You can go to a store to buy bread, and pick and choose, but not here. The MRI is for us, and I don't need it." He seemed skeptical when I told him I had stayed off my knees, and when I asked him if he was a runner he told me "I used to be, I was so fast, oh I could have left you in the dust! I used to wear weights because my friends couldn't catch up" I can't make this stuff up! I was flipping out - one minute I wanted to laugh in his face, the other I wanted to throw him into a fiery put, the other I was ready to weep. Thankfully the urge to seek out a molten fissure in the earth passed, and sanity returned. I thanked him for his time and respectfully asked for a 2nd opinion/referral.

The Mrs. convinced me to go see the folks at Kinections. They came highly recommended from multiple runners I respect and even some I barely know! I had nothing to lose and was despondent. Kinections aren't doctors, they are sports therapists and their facility in downtown Sacramento is spartan but welcoming. Exercise machines fill the middle of the room, and the western wall has stations separated by curtains. If you aren't into hearing your neighbor's conversations, this might be something to consider. If you are like me and don't care, no big. Lino lay me down and had me move my legs around, asked me what I was doing, when, how long etc. He asked me what sort of running I did, trail or road, and if I did anything to exacerbate my knee. I told him the banging into the wall during rock climbing story and he moved to the foot of the table. He had me turn my toes inward and noted that I didn't have as much range of motion on the right then nodded. (This is where things get weird/awesome)

He told me to relax, fished around under my knee, behind my knee, poked his fingers up into that area. I felt  pain for a hot second andI tried not to whimper too much since people were right next to me on both sides.
He then shoved an ice pack underneath the back of my knee and told me to wait a few minutes. I listened to the conversations around me. The couple to the right of me were training with Fleet Feet for CIM and the husband was amped on his long run that weekend. The wife was wary but excited to see progress.  When he returned he told me "get up and walk!" and I did..and the pain, while not 100% gone, was DRASTICALLY improved! It was like going from an 8 to a 2 in minutes. Was this totally psychosomatic? Was I feeling better because he told me I would? "What did you do?" I asked "I moved some cartilage around, should be ok now" I was incredulous for the 2nd time in as many days, "Well now what?" "ice behind your knee, it won't pass through the bone very well, hmm ibuprofen if you want, but really you should be ok to run - just heal up 100% now that everythings where it should be" I thanked him, paid him and walked around a block just to see if he was right, and he was.

So where does this leave me now? If I spend time on the foam roller, stretch and swim, I feel awesome. I still have a referral to see that other doctor and a chance to get more X-rays. Part of what I hate of all of this is the unknown and having to deal with people who allegedly know more about this than we do. I know there are good doctors - and my rage isn't with the medical profession in general, just in particular. It's just disheartening to hear the same story repeated over and over by fellow runners. I can trot around the backyard with the kids at least, so that is a huge plus! I can also walk without pain - this is giant. I highly recommend Lino and the staff at Kinections. Hope your runs are awesome this weekend, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Movie Mini-Review - Saint Ralph

Saint Ralph is a sweet movie about reaching for a miracle and running, but mostly about going for it. This movie shows us Ralph's hi-jinks navigating life at a Catholic school under the stern rule of  Father Fitzpatrick. Ralph's mother succumbs to an unknown malady and lapses into a coma and Ralph then tries to make a miracle happen by praying, penitence and training  to run and win the Boston Marathon. Like most Hollywood treatment of running, this movie is also a bit unrealistic and doesn't actually show training as runners today would recognize. No ramp up or taper or tempo or long runs, but it is still a fun movie to watch for runners. If you have Netflix you can watch it online here.
I have heard these types of movies referred to as "dramadies" and it's an accurate description for this movie.
Even though there are life and death scenarios here, it's actually a lot less emotional than watching Spirit Of The Marathon. I gave it 4 stars simply because 5 is a lot and I'm stingy with my 5s.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Loving Hut Review

Loving Hut - The Balloon is biodegradable. Plastic does biodegrade right
Loving Hut is a chain-ish line of vegan Vietnamese restaurants that offer yummy vegan eats and exist primarily to fund the cult religion of Supreme Master Ching Hai.  Recently we checked out the newest Northern California location at the soft launch of their Elk Grove location. I know that this is just tangentially running related but since I am a plant eater and all, I figured I'd share some of the places that I eat - you tell me if you;d rather hear me whine about my injuries ! The menus are not the same in every location, so while you might get a sandwich in San Francisco, it might not be available here. Not sure why but that's ok. I guess it does give us variety. We ordered some fried rolls and cold rolls. Both were a decent price and tasted awesome.
Cold Rolls
Fried Rolls
 After the rolls we ordered some Orange "Chicken" and some Broccoli "Beef". The beef is a pretty standard vegetarian dish.  You can get this same dish at Hings in West Sacramento or even Au Lac on Stockton Blvd for a lot less than what they have here. If however you are in South Sac/ Elk Grove I suppose you might spend as much driving to Oak Park! The orange chicken was great but I was left wanting more chicken. The portions are decent, not as skimpy as Andy Nguyens, not as generous as Hings or Ding How in Davis.
Orange Chicken
Oh! I almost forgot, we got some vegan orange cake that was delicious but oh so rich. The frosting was like biting into a tub of sugary earth balance. I'm not that into sweets so maybe I should have someone else review the goodies. In conclusion I'd give this place a 4 out of 5 simply for the price and the size of their portions. I thought that as they were just opening, they would go all out with the portions so I was a tiny bit disappointed.
If you are a nor cal reader and know of a good place to eat that's vegan or vegetarian, let me know! I am always excited to try new places to eat. Hope your long runs are great and fueled by good food!

Broccoli Beef

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sacramento Urban Cow 1/2 Marathon 2010

For Mrs. G and I, the 2010 Urban Cow Half-Marathon (aka the Cowtown Half-Marathon) was our first foray into volunteering at a race rather than running it. In short, we had a lot of fun and learned a ton! Arriving around 7:00 AM, we met these two ladies crossing Freeport Blvd. What are the chances?  I actually DO own other technical shirts, but this shirt is always such a conversation starter and I'm a social guy so I had to say hello! On the left is Marisa and on the right is Alicia - first time veg runners and now CowTow Urban Cow finishers! I had to let Matt (NoMeatAthlete) know so tweeted immediately. I'm a dork, I admit it.
"Hey! Those shirts look familiar!"
"is that Kevin Johnson?" "quiet! they're singing the national anthem!"
We got to the race and said hello to Kellie from CRRM, got our t-shirts and got to work. We helped with the post race food corral and if you remember this race last year, it was a mess. In 2009 after I finished my run, I got my cowbell and didn't even bother with food because there was such a backlog of people there. Last year I also met Barefoot Ted and purchased Born To Run from him. This year, CRRM moved the corral and expanded the area to allow runners a chance to walk a bit and collect fruit, bread, juice, cola, water etc. I hope the runners enjoyed the change, it seemed to work out well from my vantage point. We worked with some of the nicest, most enthusiastic kids ever. It was so refreshing to have kids refer to me as 'sir' 'thank you' etc. We weren't 'supervisors' or anything, but the kids just deferred to Amy and I. I didn't argue the point! I wonder if it's running culture or these particular kids? Whatever the case, it was nice to deal with happy, polite people.
Mark giving the most agreeable kids in America a last minute pep talk.
 We saw the start of both the 1/2 and the 5k and clapped for everyone then set out to prep food and drinks. Once the first finisher came through, the morning flew by. We spent the majority of our time handing out food and Amy tried to coordinate with other parts of the food area and would occasionally send me to the dumpster to empty the bins. I'm happy to report that most runners in fact, like 99.99999 percent were awesome! There was a tiny demographic that got carried away with small crimes, like taking a whole carton of strawberries instead of just a couple! We ended up handing them out to stop that issue, otherwise the mid-pack folks would've been left with nothing. We also saw some runners take whole milk cartons and then chuck them. Why take them if you aren't going to use? Waste not, want not. I mean I don't want milk anyways but I digress. One of our fellow volunteers had a bullhorn blaring "once you leave you may not enter, Chipotle tacos are free for runners" over and over again. Some people still went in. Others asked me for food from behind. I wasn't going to say no!
Amy and two other volunteers, and lots of strawberries!
We noticed a lot of runners were running out of hands when we'd hand them their fruit, so once we freed up some baskets we'd give them to the runners and send them to the Grocery Outlet table (which had plastic bags!) this generated a lot of smiles but the Grocery Outlet people weren't too excited and eventually moved their bag giveaway to OUTSIDE the corral (what?). This made no sense to me but the GO people were there own entity so there's not much else we can do about them. Sometime during the 1/2 finishers coming in, I met another runner with a No Meat Athlete shirt! Turns out we have a mutual friend in Holly who does a blog as well!. We chatted for a bit, I gave him some strawberries, he gave me some injury advice and we took a photo or two together!
add Jeff to the growing ranks of Nor Cal veg runners!
Towards the end things got really hectic in the corral, and I was shocked to discover how little food was left!
Mental note: run faster, you will get more post race food! As I was lugging away a juicy, liquid soaked garbage bag, I heard "Jose!" and ran into Daphne, a friend from DailyMile. Daphne her husband and a friend stopped for a photo and looked absolutely awesome for completing 13.1 miles of fun. Congrats again Daphne!

Daphne her husband and friend. Check out her blog!
We took a break to roam around and check out the booths, vendors, etc. The line for Chipotle was huge, and I just missed running into two fellow runners who I have yet to say hi to IRL though we talk constantly on Twitter and DM. Kelly and Derrick both were going, but with thousands of people, it's a surprise I ran into anyone really. (Speaking of Kelly, she's close to her goal of raising $5,000 for her charity. If you have a paypal account, head over and give her a buck or two!)

Here then in no particular order are some observations about the Urban Cow:
  • One guy was a sweaty, sopping mess and reached OVER strawberries- bathing the poor fruit in his post race fluids. I couldn't in good conscience let another runner eat those so I trashed em.
  • It is a lot of work to get a race put together, we were only in one section but it took a lot of people, muscle and motivation to get things done. Hat's off to the people at the aid stations, booths, etc.
  • I've only been running for a short while, but I really love the disposable chips. Remember having to wait for someone to cut them off? That sudden stop = barf city.
  • Even though I didn't run, I didn't feel bad for not participating, I was a part of the event still, and it felt good to know that my efforts were appreciated. I got a lot of thank yous from runners and fellow volunteers. So much love!
  • Runners are beautiful people. Everyone is giving it their all sweating, smiling, and living! It was nice to be around the positive energy of runners.
  • It's nice to see Mayor Kevin Johnson at so many running events. All politics aside, it's good to see community leaders take an active role in physical fitness. He's up early on a Sunday, good job Mr. Mayor!
KJ and yours truly.

Congrats to all that participated! Also - I'm sending prayers and encouragement to everyone racing next week, lots of big races! Chicago, Portland, Buzz Oates, Royal Victoria, do it up friends!I will do another 'rah rah' post soon, just know that many of you are in my thoughts. Here are some more links to Urban Cow 'round ups' so to speak. Enjoy!