No NCAA Basketball bracket for me this year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any good picks this month.
- Skechers is making legitimately good running shoes these days. The original Go Runs are more comfortable than the Mizuno Elixirs that Mizuno stopped making as soon as I liked them. I’ll probably try out Skechers’ Go Bionics in the next rotation.
- I’m about 99% Google-powered now. Nexus 5, Google Docs, Gmail, and now a $199 Chromebook has moved into our house. I’m having trouble finding anything it can’t do. You can open an SSH session in a tab, you can get a terabyte of storage for $10 a month, Chrome apps seem to be good enough for the occasional image edit or other task typically done by a local software package. For $6 a month you can develop with ShiftEdit, which works well for sites that require better vim skills than I possess.
- The Nerdist Podcast has become my favored running podcast. If it’s amusing, it’s entertaining; if it’s annoying, it’s incentive to run faster to escape listening to any more of it. Win win. I tried to train against zombies for as long as I could, but once I found out how to cheat (just wave your arm really fast when the zombies catch up to you), I couldn’t really justify the extra heavy breathing in my ear.
- If this Nest-like, learn your habits, control over the internet with your smartphone, window unit Quirky Aros air conditioner actually gets made, I’m all over it. The less I’m home, the more I want to scare the ridgeback with wifi-sensitive appliances.
IT Band Fun
So I went a full year with no significant injuries from running, but after running the Maine Marathon in October 2013, I came down with an IT Band issue. If you’re a runner, you probably already know about Iliotibial band syndrome, but if you’re not a runner (or you’re an oblivious runner like me), IT Band Syndrome means that the outside of your knee screams at you when you try to do daredevilish, outlandish activities like walking down stairs, running more than 500 yards, sitting in a chair with your leg in the wrong position and then standing up, pedaling a bike, or chasing your two-year-old.
What Fixed It (Maybe!) For Me
If you search the Internet for IT Band remedies, you’ll probably find what I found; anything can cause the problem and the cure is rather specific to the individual. What I think worked for me was the following:
- Stop running until it doesn’t hurt to walk.
- Buy a cheap elastic exercise strap. I found a set of 3 at Target for less than 20 bucks. Put the strap around your ankles, stand on one foot, and extend your leg out to the side until your hip/butt hurts. Stand on the other leg and repeat in the other direction. When you get bored of this, lie down on your side with the band still around your ankles and lift the top leg up in the air until you’re tired; then flip over and do the other side.
- You might also want to try to do one-legged (pistol) squats. I still can’t do one completely on either leg, but I think attempting it and getting lower as the legs get stronger helped. Regardless, if you’re like me, failing miserably at these and falling down on your ass will at least entertain your family, dog, etc.
What Popular Tips Didn’t Work For Me
In no particular order:
- Running through it didn’t work. That’s my usual approach to injury management, but I couldn’t push through the pain on the outside of my right knee. It never loosened up, it never went away during a run, and it hurt progressively worse (like a rat chewing on and earlier during runs. I contemplated switching to croquet.
- Stretching didn’t seem to help. I tried every stretch I could find to target the IT Band, but none seemed to help me return to running. It’s of course possible that stretching helped make the exercises work and/or sped up the recovery, but I’m unconvinced of this.
- Many people swear by foam rollers. I’m unconvinced of their effectiveness for IT Band recovery. Rolling up and down the leg (I had the large roller that you lie on, rather than the hand roller) feels good in a “hurts like f’ing hell so it might be helping” kind of way, but I didn’t notice any lasting benefit of rolling. Again, an argument could certainly be made that foam rolling played a part in conjunction with exercises, but I don’t think it did much for me.
- Resting alone didn’t seem to help. Before I did any specific exercises, stretching, etc., I just took a couple weeks off from running. The pain went away during this time, but it came right back when I tried to start running again. I could never go more than a couple miles before shutting it down again.
What I Think Caused My Particular IT Band Issue
I’m not a doctor and I imagine listening to people ponder what caused/fixed their injuries is of dubious merit, but hell… you’ve made it this far… so here’s what I think happened.
- Since doing exercises that target the hips/butt seemed to fix the problem (fingers crossed), it seems likely that I had/have weak muscles that are not specifically strengthened by running.
- Most sources call this an “overuse” injury, but that never sat well with me, because I had run quite a bit over the past year without any issues. My running included half marathons and several long runs in preparation for a marathon, and I never significantly ramped up my weekly mileage.
- I ran a marathon in early October and struggled with leg cramps over the last 10K, and I’m suspicious that I caused some problems/irritation during that race. I took about 5 days off after the marathon and then returned to my normal running routine, which included a weekly long run of about 13 miles. I did this for a couple weeks before the IT Band issues popped up, so I think this is a case of insufficiently recovering from the marathon before returning to longer runs. I think lurching toward the finish of the marathon screwed up some hip/butt muscles/attachments/legos not usually taxed during my training/running, and I think that once they were beaten down they didn’t have a chance to repair before I returned to running. A couple long runs were then probably enough to cause a problem… in my case an IT Band issue.
- I keep having birthdays.
Day at the New England Aquarium
Contrast the tranquility of the fish tank with the soundtrack:
Pictures are in the gallery. Here’s a video that includes hula hooping:
Great moments in backyard projects reminds you that…
One bat house can hold up to 100 bats. One bat can eat over 600 mosquitoes in an hour.
November Birthday Season!
November marks the end of the line for many turkeys, but it’s the fiesta season for Marblehead Moores as Abigail, Emily, AND Jackson all celebrate their birthdays in this poorly named month. Luckily, Emma’s birthday provided some cake-eating practice:
Jets are Cheaters AND Tattlers
Yep… in the same game the NFL refs gift wrapped for the pathetic Jets, the Jets ran the same basic play. See how the Jet pushes the other Jet into the line when the Patriots are kicking? Yep… that’s exactly what the refs called on the Pats… in overtime. Still nothing good out of New Jersey since Namath.
2013 Maine Marathon
Completed first marathon (Maine Marathon) on October 6 in 3 hours 22 minutes. Beat realistic goal of 3:30, but fell short of reach goal of 3:15 needed to minimally qualify for Boston Marathon in my age group.
- Support was HUGE! If my family had not been along the route during the last six miles, I might have finished at a leisurely Lonesome George shuffle step, or have ditched my bib, pulled off the course and pretended to be a water-stop worker (“you can do it! almost there!.. ” I know the lines now, you liquid-pimping sadists!) until the volunteer shuttle came. Emily ran with me for a good chunk of the last mile, which was great. I anticipated being able to summon more of a conquering Caesar finish with a sprint at the end, but in true October/Halloween month marathon style, I crossed the finish line like a walking-dead zombie.
- Well-run race… on the organizers’ part. Good swag bag, GREAT shirt this year, easy to get to start/finish line, and a very nice touch by not firing a gun at the start in respect for what happened at the Boston Marathon in 2013. A little air horn went off and then the race organizer just walked up to the front of the corral and said, “go… GO DAMN IT! I started the clock! Go! RUN!”
Marathons have time to catch up to me. I made the turn (out and back course) at 1:32, felt great, and didn’t finish until 3:22. Virtually ALL of the added time in the second half came in the last six miles. At the turn I was thinking, “if I’m close at mile twenty, I’ll go for 3:10 this time, and then go for sub-3 hours next time.” Idiot. Moron. Tragically-flawed getting-ahead of one’s self simpleton. The last six miles were a series of pace-exploding, have-to-stop-and-stretch-omfg-forrest-gump-something-bit-me leg cramps and I was thinking, “I’m standing in the middle of the road with less than a Chatham Harbor Run to go and I’ll be lucky to beat Oprah’s marathon time… or Al Gore’s marathon time… or Al Roker’s marathon time (although he might be still running).”
- Hydration and nutrition are legitimate factors. I haven’t run into leg cramps at distances up to the half marathon, but even on a cool, autumn Maine day, the marathon distance shut down both legs. I carried my own Gatorade in a nifty Orange Mud mini pack and consumed approximately 18 ounces. Apparently this is not enough, or I didn’t drink it early enough. Along with the Gatorade, I ate six Cliff Margarita chews “with 3x the salt,” and four Endurolyte capsules. I may pack a pizza and a growler of beer next time… or push an IV stand… or at least switch back to Gu’s.
- Heady Topper is the best beer I have ever had (put “Hints of grapefruit belong in an IPA, damn it!” on my gravestone), and I’m designating it my officially official celebratory libation for marathon PR’s, BQ’s, and maybe even DNFs. Hard to find beer, you say? Yep. Almost as hard to find as this particular Andy in a marathon, since I’m currently averaging 1 marathon every 41 years.
Running Goals for 2014:
- Qualify for Boston 2015 (3:15 for lottery, probably 3:12ish to realistically get in).
- Sub 3 hour marathon in Fall.
- Sub 39 minute 10k.
- Sub 1:25 half marathon.
- Perfect alchemy of electrolytes, fluid, food that allows me to hide what’s going on from my leg muscles.
First Marathon by Mile Splits (reality by Garmin!):
- Mile 1 – 6:50
- Mile 2 – 6:54
- Mile 3 – 7:04
- Mile 4 – 6:50
- Mile 5 – 7:00
- Mile 6 – 6:55
- Mile 7 – 7:10
- Mile 8 – 7:15
- Mile 9 – 7:09
- Mile 10 – 7:20
- Mile 11 – 6:54
- Mile 12 – 7:11
- Mile 13 – 6:59 (delusions of still making reach goal)
- Mile 14 – 7:12 (no worries!)
- Mile 15 – 7:31 (hilly… no panic!)
- Mile 16 – 7:16 (got this easy!)
- Mile 17 – 7:38 (angry face, but doing fine!)
- Mile 18 – 7:33 (hold it to 20… got this!)
- Mile 19 – 7:31 (Nice… I’ll take this pace to the house!)
- Mile 20 – 7:30 (Only a 10k left… nice!)
- Mile 21 – 8:30 (first leg cramp… wtf! Eat and drink everything left on my person… lick visible salt!)
- Mile 22 – 9:58 (despair… train wreck mile… multiple locked up leg cramp stops.)
- Mile 23 – 8:44 (baby rally… still can make up some time… finish this thing strong!)
- Mile 24 – 9:44 (more leg cramps… despair… I hate Maine!)
- Mile 25 – 8:20 (family witnesses… baby rally… or hallucinations)
- Mile 26.2 – Approx. 10 mins (forgot to stop watch at finish line… again!)
- Average mile: 7:43 / Final time: 3:22:03
Much is happening in this series of nature photographs taken with the Nikon 3700 Ultra Z camera, a device more commonly used to capture the movement of hummingbird wings. Please note the Jackson’s unique style of consuming a cone from not one, not two, but apparently from three different sides. There’s little question now that this species’ wrist is double-jointed. Notice also how quickly the Abber shakes off a vicious ice cream headache (last defense of the iced dessert) and continues to shovel Jimmie-crusted Oreo ice cream to its death.
No snow? No problem.
Score one for the AppleTV and a few other quick hits…
- I usually side with Roku when asked what additional set-top box to buy, since Roku allows the easy use of Amazon Prime Video, but the Teter cord-chewing (it’s not cutting if it ain’t cut!) project has unearthed the fact that Roku’s HBO Go channel does NOT work with XFinity, whereas AppleTV’s HBO Go option DOES work with XFinity. Since I would pretty much cancel all channels other than HBO and NESN, and simply watch the Patriots with an antenna or at a bar once a week, this discovery has pushed the AppleTV over the Roku… even though we have both… and they’re 5 inches apart… and they’re on Video 3 and Video 4 on the same television… and we only watch tv in the kids-are-asleep window from 8:15PM to 9:00PM because we’re more tired these days than the Ridgeback, who is about as tired as you can get and still be alive.
- Motorola’s X Phone is good-not-great. It is innovative with its always-on-and-waiting-for-youishness and the way it tries to tap into Google Now better… something that really blows Siri out of the water by the way. The specs are a little weak and the display is little weak, but the real deal breaker for me is that the camera (from what I’ve seen) still takes too many craptastic pictures. Repeat after me, Motorola: “a stellar camera joined to solid Motorola hardware with maybe adding back a dash of kevlar would = you winning.” I’d say wait for the second generation of this and hope that Google bakes some of the extra Motorola functionality into Key Lime Pie, so that this could be a viable Nexus device.
- Chromecast is a neat little toy that made sense to buy when it came with the three free months of Netflix. It works… it’s kind of neat to throw a browser to your tv… if you want to put browser-based video on your tv, or if you don’t have a Roku or an AppleTV or anything else to watch Netflix, ok… but it’s raw and hiccuppy at the moment. It’s got great potential, but if you don’t like to beta test… well… I’d wait until they start giving these away or integrating them with newer tv’s. People will do cool stuff with this thing down the road, but no need to rush out now.
2013 Chatham vacation in gifs…
Because animated gifs are the Web’s haiku: