Maggie, the Ancient One

Hello friends. We made it to another Saturday. Last week was a rough week. Our oldest dog, Maggie, has been having some issues. She is seventeen years old, which is pretty old for a dog. The past few nights she has been very restless, whining almost all night. Yesterday, about 3’oclock AM, we had to take her to the emergency vet. She had not slept at all and was behaving like she was in pain. The vet looked her over and gave her a relatively clean bill of health. She did say that it is possible that Maggie has dementia. This really sucks, for her and us.

Right now she is calm and sleeping on the couch next to me. She goes through these episodes a few times a week. Sometimes we will find her standing up and staring off into space. There isn’t really much we can do for her. It’s terrible watching a beloved companion deteriorate in old age.

One of the big side effects of Maggie’s up-all-night episodes is that we don’t get a high quality and sufficient quantity of sleep. If you haven’t read the book by Arianna Huffington, entitled, “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time,” get it and read it! It explains the immense importance of sleep. Low quality and/or not enough sleep can drastically impact our performance in all areas, and potentially sets us up for horrifying diseases like Alzheimer’s.

I’m not really sure how to handle the sleep situation. Maggie sleeps in the same room with us, and I don’t think we can change this. She needs to be close to us. So, I may look into getting her a sleep aid, like doggie melatonin, or something.

On another front, I am down three pounds this week. My eating was better last week, and I was able to get in a couple of runs. I expect to be in the low 230’s by next month’s 5K. As long as I can stay on my plan, there shouldn’t be any problems.

We have a lot to do today. I’ve neglected some of my manly duties, like lawn maintenance and cleaning the exterior of the house. Our place is starting to look like a haunted house, just in time for Halloween. Denice is not pleased.

That’s all for now. Until next time.

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Barefoot Benefit 5K

I ran the Barefoot Benefit 5K today. It was my first time running in an actual race. I really enjoyed the experience. The race was at Sequoyah Hills Park in Knoxville Tennessee, my hometown. As the name entails, the race was intended to be run barefoot, although that was not a requirement. I was surprised that out of the hundred or so participants, only a small handful were actually running barefoot. Go figure.

The course was entirely grass, held in an open expanse of the park. The Tennessee River flowed silently next to us. The ground was soft from a recent rain. This made it a little more difficult than running on pavent. The soft earth steals a little of your rebound energy with each step. I came fully prepared to run on pavement and was a little surprised when I found out the race was going to be in the grass. As a regular barefoot runner, I can tell you that I would prefer not to run on grass. Sure, it’s soft and easy on your feet, but it conceals potential dangers. You can’t see what’s lurking under it. The grass can hide all sorts of things; broken glass, dog poo, used condoms, AIDs infected needles… just use your imagination.

Aside from the turf, it was a really fun event. It was a beautiful day, and just cloudy enough to make the temperature comfortable. There was a cool breeze blowing during most of the race.

20171015_133748Denice and Sylar were there to cheer me on. Sylar is in training to become Denice’s service/therapy dog. He did great today. He only lost his shit a couple of times when I was passing by. The race was broken down into three laps, so every time I lapped he got a little excited. It felt really good to have them there.

I don’t remember my exact run time. I saw the clock at the finish line, and it was at forty-two minutes and something. Yeah, I’m slow, but for a fat guy, I suppose I’m doing ok.

I have another race coming up in November. This is a ‘conventional’ 5K, on the streets of downtown Knoxville. I will be running it barefoot. After seeing that a small fraction of racers actually raced barefoot at a barefoot event, I am expecting to probably be the only dude out there running shoeless. Should be interesting.

 

Our Journey into the Desert

Hi friends. Denice and I recently returned from a week in Phoenix Arizona. We went there in the hopes of finding help for Denice at the World renowned, Mayo Clinic. Denice sufferers from severe chronic pain from complications from a previous back surgery. We have exhausted the capabilities of the medical institutions here in Tennessee, so we had hoped that Mayo may be able to do something more.

First of all, the area where Mayo is located is beautiful. Their campus is amazing. It is the desert, full of giant cacti, dusty plains, jagged mountains, searing heat, and all sorts of strange plants and animals. We had a little bit of free time in the evenings to go and explore, and what we saw was spectacular.

The Mayo Clinic is a very impressive place. Denice had a team of doctors who all worked together to help find a solution to her chronic pain. We discovered that her back is structurally perfect. All the fusions and hardware look great. That is a relief because we were worried that more discs may have degenerated since the surgery. Of course, that still leaves her in severe pain that exists in the damaged nerves themselves, something that is very difficult to treat.

We returned home at the end of the week. The clinic gave us a couple of good treatment options, one of which Denice is unable to do right now. Basically, the only way forward is through a treatment plan that Mayo offers at their Pain Rehabilitation Clinic. It is a three-week program that teaches pain management techniques, that according to them, should help Denice control her pain without (or at least with less) pain medication. They are confident that the program will greatly improve her quality of life. She has already enrolled and will be starting in November.

The last couple of months of this year are going to be rough for us. I will have to stay home and work during the weeks, so I will only see her for a few days through this whole process. Lucky for us, Denice has a strong support system in her family, in particular, her mother and stepdad, who will be traveling from Colorado to stay with her through this. With their help and the help of her brother, I think we are going to be able to make this happen. Yes, it is going to happen, and we are enthusiastic that it will make a positive difference in her life.

Lazy Saturday

Hi, friends. As you can read from the title, I have done a whole lot of Jack Squat today. I was able to get in a good three and a quarter mile run yesterday. That is officially the furthest distance I have run barefoot to date. My feet and legs did fine. I did get a little soreness in both Achilles and my right ankle, which is why I have decided to take today off.

20170906_185644It has been a mostly uneventful day. Last Wednesday I discovered that there was a huge hornet’s nest on the back eave of our house. There must have been dozens of the frickers in it. It has been a miracle that we haven’t been stung to death. As much as I hate to kill things, these creatures are simply too dangerous to leave be. So, I reluctantly planned my assault. Following General Tzu’s advice of “attacking my enemy’s weakness,” I decided to use poison on them first thing this morning, while they were still near paralyzed by the cooler temperature. The attack was swift and effective. They went down with no resistance.

And that was the most exciting thing to happen today. We do have a Tennessee Vols football game to watch this evening. The folks around these parts take college football very seriously. It is almost a religious experience for a lot of my neighbors and my wife. I enjoy it somewhat, but what I really love is watching Denice get so excited about it. She loves her sports.

Last week I did terrible with my eating. I did manage to keep it to one meal a day, and that at least kept me from gaining weight. Next week I am going to do much better. I have a good eating and exercise plan and have every intention to execute it flawlessly. I really need to get my weight down. There’s a reason why you don’t see a lot of fat runners.

If you would like to help keep me honest with my training, follow me on Twitter. If I’m doing what I’m supposed to, you should see a tweet every day that says I ran at least one mile. If I didn’t, feel free to call my lazy ass out.

Till next time.

Down, but not Out

Last week I had a bit of a setback. I was on my usual after work jog around the park. It was nothing out of the ordinary, just a quick couple of barefoot miles. I finished the run and drove home. When I stepped out of the car I noticed a pain in my left foot. I bent down and pressed on the spot that hurt, and that made it really hurt. As you can imagine, my mind was flooded with the worst “Oh Shit” thoughts it could conjure up.

The next morning, it still hurt, and I made the not so smart decision to go to work anyway. Spending eight hours standing and walking around did not help matters. I was considerably worse by the end of the day. I came home almost limping to the door. I was hoping that after a good nights sleep, it may be better. It wasn’t. At that point, I wasn’t taking any more chances. I called into work and told them I wasn’t coming in.

Later that night I am sitting in the exam room of an orthopedic clinic. The Dr. checked my foot out. I almost jumped out of the chair when she found the spot. A few x-rays later, I had a diagnosis. Peroneal Tendonitis.

The good news was nothing was broken or torn. It was just an inflamed tendon. It was very uncomfortable, but would ultimately heal up.

During my barefoot running journey, I have had a number of what I call, growing pains. When I first started the soles of my feet hurt. As they adapted, that went away. Then the outer edges hurt, and that went away. Then for a while, my calves were very sore. That went away. Later on, my knees were hurting. This worried me, but it also went away. There have been times that I hit a big rock and literally had to limp home. After a day or two of rest, I was fine. This injury really had me concerned though. It just felt different than all the others.

For a few days, I was almost depressed. I was afraid that I may have to give up running, at least temporarily. I have found that I love it. I did feel quite a bit better when I learned that it was just a temporary injury, and I would ultimately make a full recovery.

I think one of the drivers behind the injury may be my recent obsession with improving my speed. I had gotten into the habit of always trying to beat my time from the last run. I think this contributed to me losing focus on my form, and overstriding. This is a no, no. I have decided to not worry about speed at all. For the foreseeable future, I am only going to worry about keeping my form correct. After all, I’m not training for a race or seeking to best anyone. I simply like to run, and that is more than enough for me.

I did get out Friday for a lap around the park, which is one mile. I took it slow and gentle. My foot did great. It feels almost 100%. Even still, I’m not going to push it. I will slowly build back the distance.

Screenshot_20170904-112404During this whole ordeal, I found some new friends. I got some really good advice from the great folks at The Barefoot Runners Society. For those of you who have an interest in barefoot running, or running in general, they have a lot of resources on their website. You can find the forums here. Check them out.

Post Totality

The eclipse. It happened. It was one of the most amazing events I have ever witnessed. Denice and I opted to observe it in our back yard. The traffic was just too bad to get to our friend’s house who had the better view. There was a viewing party at a nearby city park, but we decided it would be less distracting to just stay home. I’m glad we did. The eclipse was wonderful, and one of the coolest things about it was the subtle changes in the sounds around us. It created a kind of calm, and besides the sudden emergence of cicada song, eerie silence.

We watched it from first contact, through totality, and a few minutes after most of the sunlight returned. Totality was very brief. It was an amazing experience, but I was over in mere moments, and it is sad to think that I will most likely not see another in my life time.

For those of you who are privileged enough to get to see a total solar eclipse in the future, I would advise against wasting time, at least during totality, with trying to get pictures of it. Even if they turn out good, there are a thousand other people out there, with better equipment, who will get better stills and video. Take it in with your own senses. Look around you. The change in the environment is tangible. Feel the temperature drop. Listen as things go silent, and then as the nocturnal beings emerge all around you. Technology is great, but if you try to experience something like this though it, you will be disappointed.

And now it is time to get back to everyday life. Thanks, Nature! That was a great show.

Totality!

In a little over a day, I am going to experience my first total solar eclipse. The last time this region had one, I was two years old. I actually have some faint memories of the event, but not of the eclipse itself. Well, not this time. I have taken half a day off from work to witness it without distraction. This is a cosmic event that I will not live long enough to see again, and I intend to be present for it.

Getting the viewing glasses was a little bit of a pain. We made the mistake of thinking we would be able to buy them cheap in the week leading up to the eclipse. Yeah, not so much. They quickly sold out, and we were almost left to the mercy of the scalpers. Luckily, thanks to our local news stations vigilant Twitter updates, I was able to get a bead on a couple of pairs for five dollars each (plus a five dollar handling charge, of course), from our local museum. The funny thing is that my work place was able to secure a whole box of five hundred of them for all of us employees the next day. They couldn’t give them away to us, due to liability issues, but they did “sell” them for one dollar apiece as a donation to a charity that the company supports. It was a deal that I couldn’t pass up. I was able to secure an additional seven pairs. That allowed me to supply my mother, her boyfriend, and sister with glasses. I am also selling the left overs for fifteen dollars a pair, and actually making a good profit (yea capitalism!).

We are still debating on a viewing location. I don’t think our backyard will be ideal for this, because of the houses that surround us on all sides. One of the coolest things about the eclipse is the 360-degree sunset that occurs just before totality. I don’t want to miss that. We need a large, flat expanse, or maybe a hilltop. Luckily we have some family who will be watching it from their hilltop house. We may end up there.

So, for all of you who are fortunate enough to experience the Great American Eclipse, happy viewing!