Archive for June, 2012

Reviewing my previous posts caused me to realize that I’ve been boring you to tears with the sob story of my Achilles tendon injury.  Let me apologize and lead us down a new path by adding the last word regarding that issue.  As of today I am taking an anti-inflammatory for recent swelling and pain, despite roughly 10 days of variations on the RICE theme.  Until I am running again or diagnosed with a condition requiring surgery, I’ll refrain from discussing the topic again. Woo-hoo!

It’s been a busy week and I can happily proclaim that it was productive, hectic, joyful and relaxing all at the same time.

Pacuare River, Class IV rapids

My wife and I made a white water rafting trip down the Rio Pacuare to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary two weeks ago.  It was by far the best organized and most enjoyed trip we’ve made since living in Costa Rica.  The journey to the river took us by the Volcan Turrialba, one of the many volcanoes in Costa Rica, and one of several that are active.  On our way to the rapids it was spewing a solid column of grey-white ash and smoke.  Apparently what we saw was just a prelude, as the volcano finally blew its top last week.  Woo-hoo!

Turrialba Volcano erupting

On Tuesday I made a flight back to the United States to spend a few days in Miami.  A few times per year I return to knock out early Christmas shopping, grab a few birthday gifts, as well as more mundane tasks such as paying my respects to the banking industry, accountants, lawyers and the such.

The commute from my home in San Jose to the Juan Santamaria International Airport traverses the General Cañas Highway, which is the primary transportation route for all traffic connecting the city to the airport and beyond.  According to the Public Works and Tranportation Administration (MOPT) the highway will need 3 weeks of repairs and advised daily commuters to either “work from home or take a vacation.”  Welcome to life in Costa Rica!

Highway sinkhole in Costa Rica

According to government officials a tree clogged the sewer system that lies beneath the highway.  Coupled with massive run-off from the recent down pours of the country’s rainy season, the duo proved too much for the road to withstand causing the collapse.

I arrived at the airport at 5am for my 7:15am flight and missed the sinkhole disaster by roughly 12 hours.  Woo-hoo!

My 4 days in Miami had a few bumps in the road that mostly revolved around lost or dishonest taxi drivers and their upscale, car service counterparts.  The positives however far outweighed the minor annoyances.

I’ve been a follower of the Primal Blueprint for roughly 5 or 6 months and love the results.  But I don’t shy away from enjoying any food options when they are opportunities that present themselves few and far between.  Miami is well known for its large Cuban population, and they bring a lot to the table.  Pun fully intended.

Sergios Cuban Food

I didn’t eat both of those delicious sandwiches but I easily could have!  If you are ever in the mood for a great sampling of Cuban cuisine, Sergio’s is the place to go in Miami.

The highlight of the week however had to be my trip to the new, Miami Marlins baseball stadium.  Marlins Park opened to usher in the 2012 MLB season.  The park seats 37,000 fans, has a retractable roof, swimming pool, and a diverse choice of food vendors that include everything from traditional hot dogs and hamburgers, to kosher food, bbq, seafood, latin fare, pizza, and even a gluten-free vendor.

I purchased the tickets for the game a few days in advance after viewing one of Groupon’s local deal emails.  Offering 58% off regular prices for a variety of seating options the discount was a great way to sit in seats I otherwise would not have purchased.

Spending an evening with great friends, while reminiscing about days gone by, drinking a few beers and watching the home team hit consecutive home runs to win the game is an experience that  beats most.

Miami Marlins Park

When we are down in the dumps about something, like not running for 10 days due to some mystery Achilles injury, it’s easy to start feeling jaded and cynical about things.  But it’s vital to remember that most of our sufferings are trivial in the greater scheme of life, and if we open our eyes and hearts there are plenty of great experiences waiting to be had.

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Unfortunately, my version of the iconic Willie Nelson tune refers not to my 5 foot, 10 inch frame striding at an efficient 180 steps per minute down a picturesque trail, or even my uncoordinated flailing that probably tempts any unlucky onlookers to call 911, as I struggle down the final stretches of asphalt during a longer run.

No such luck for me.  On The Road Again simply refers to my current travels which find me back in Miami, the city of my collegiate experience and afterwards, about roughly 15 years of pondering why I lived there for so long.

I arrived at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) at a very bleary eyed 5am this morning in preparation for a 7:15am flight to the Magic City, Gateway to the Americas, aka The Capital of Latin America.  And here I am, sitting in my hotel room, nursing an Achilles tendon strain that has been slowly improving day by day, until now.

My hope was to use these fours days in Miami as my final rest and recovery effort, and maybe even sneak in a test run or two on the hotel’s treadmill.  I let out a rather loud, and possibly rude chuckle when I took a tour of the hotel to inspect the fitness center.  Instead of an array of ellipticals, treadmills and the like, I discovered an otherwise abandoned hallway located beyond the hotel’s restaurant and en route to the pool (another victim of heavy handed Photoshop enhancement.)

One treadmill, one stationary bike and one out-of-service elliptical machine stood in ragged formation as if they were the last survivors of an unseen battle.  And perhaps they are.  Veterans of the hotel’s budget wars.

The F-Lites earned frequent flyer miles but aren’t racking up any road or treadmill runs.

My desire to complain however, was tempered both by my sleep deprived state, and more importantly, by the fact that my Achilles tendon and ankle are now slightly swollen, a condition that neither had displayed at any previous time since my injury.

I’m writing this entry as I my heel wedges its way deeper into my hotel room’s ice bucket.  Word to the wise, if you’re ever in room #514 ask for a new ice bucket!

I haven’t panicked yet because I am going to remain positive and attribute this slight swelling to the airplane travel and a fairly common case of foot and ankle edema, exacerbated by the preexisting injury.

But to be 100% honest with you it’s mentally tough.  I’m trying to convince myself that all will be fine, and that I should go ahead and book my return trip to Miami for the 2013 ING Half Marathon.

I guess in a worst case scenario I will have front row seats to an exciting show on the beach.

On the road again.  But when?

 

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The 2012 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run is in progress as of 5am PDT today.

Follow the racing action and your favorite runner via the webcast.

Runners face a climb of 2,550 vertical feet within the first four miles of the course.  Afterwards, they must ascend another 15,540 feet and then descend a total 22,970 feet as they reach the finish line.

Brutal, is all I can say.

 

WS100 trail course map

To be a great comic, they say that timing is everything.  I believe in that theory, and not only as it relates to generating laughs.  Today is day 2 of recovering from an Achilles tendon strain.  My plans were for a relaxed and lazy day around the house.  A little cooking for the kids when they get home from school.  Testing out some new tennis ball massage techniques for my hamstrings and calves.  And maybe an hour of talking to my laptop while navigating a Rosetta Stone lesson plan in German.

An email arrived that took me completely by surprise.  My new running shoes had arrived and were ready for pick-up.

Inov-8 Road-X 233

Weird angle. I promise that neither my legs nor my feet are that stubby.

A few months ago when I began my latest attempt at running again I was inspired by all of the information I was digesting regarding barefoot and minimalist running.  So I did about a month of barefoot walking and walk/jog training on the treadmill.  Once I began running 3x per week for at least 30 minutes I transitioned to a pair of minimalist kicks, the Inov-8 F-Lite 195.

I love those shoes, and although I don’t have experience with any other minimalist models to make a comparison, I can’t imagine I could be much happier with another brand.  Well done Inov-8!

The shoes that arrived today are the Inov-8 Road-X 233.  I ordered this pair for several reasons.  I wanted a second pair of shoes to alternate runs in, so as not to destroy either pair too quickly and also so that whatever tiny differences existed in my gait with different shoes could help avoid repetitive motion injuries.  I know that’s probably a generous stretch of logic, but it’s nice to rationalize a luxury purchase when you can.

In addition, I wanted to add some diversity and flexibility into my choices, depending on where I might schedule my runs.  As the name suggests, the Road-X is designed specifically for road work,  and the F-Lite 195 is a general purpose fitness shoe that has some light trail capability with its slightly raised tread pattern.  The Road-X sports a 6mm heel to toe differential and weigh in at 8.2 ounces.  Not quite as minimal as the F-Lites  but well within my comfort zone.

Most likely I will not be writing up any type of review for these shoes other than to say that thus far I am very impressed with Inov-8, and would recommend their shoes without hesitation.  I don’t feel I posses the technical knowledge or running experience to dive further into discussing fascia bands, lateral this, and medial that.

After all, the only testing I will be doing in the immediate future is walking around the house.

Timing is everything.

 

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Yesterday I injured my Achilles tendon during a 5k recovery run through the rolling hills of my local neighborhood of Curridabat, located in San Jose, Costa Rica.   Today was day 1 of an unknown amount of rest and recovery.  After the first 15 hours of rest, ice, compression and elevation I can, without hesitiation, proclaim, “I am bored!”

Honestly, the day followed a fairly normal routine of following up on emails for my business, wasting too much time perusing Facebook and an assortment of strength training, running and Paleo diet websites, as well as an errand or two taking me to the local supermarket, Auto Mercado.

My state of mind, however, had me in the dumps, and I needed to dig deep into the motivational well to lift my spirits.

And what better way to do it?  Tilapia and shrimp sauteed in olive oil, garlic, butter and lemon pepper.  A small side salad of tomato, avocado and black olives.  Not included in the photo are several generous glasses of Casillero del Diablo’s tasty Malbec from Chile.

tilapia, shrimp, avocado, tomato, black olives

A delicious meal that mostly falls within the Paleo guidelines, minus a small amount of Black Swan Hot sauce.

Patience, Day 1

Let me start by saying that I realize many people are suffering and enduring circumstances far worse than I can probably imagine.  Even within my extended family there are crises in progress that far outweigh in importance the petty and self-indulgent complaining in which I am about the begin. Having said that, this is my blog and it’s officially time to schedule a little self pity.

Yesterday, while out on a 5k run my right Achilles tendon began to tighten and become stiff and painful. I debated the wisdom of continuing as the pain became progressively worse and ultimately decided to walk the final half mile home. By the time I reached my front door there was no debating the fact that I was injured, and climbing the stairs to shower proved quite difficult.

 Let’s backtrack twenty or so years ago to explain why this seemingly tedious injury is bothering me so much.

 I served briefly in the U.S. military and was exposed to running on a routine basis for the first time. I played baseball and a little soccer in my youth but never had I run six days a week, every week.  During this training my 2 mile run times were sub 12:30 and I even managed to once rocket through a 1 mile session in less than 5:30. These aren’t impressive times by any real runner’s standards, I know. But they were my pinnacle, and was, and am, proud of them.

 After exiting military service I was sporadic with my fitness attempts. A few months of weight training here and there. Several months of martial arts training. And attempts to run that would inevitably lead to knee pain and swelling so severe that within a few weeks I was hobbled. This cycle of nonsense carried on for more years than I care to admit or contemplate.

 For just over a decade, every attempt I made to include running as part of my fitness regimen ended with injury or pain that I was unable to endure, compensate for, or eliminate.

 Approximately four months ago I began researching online information regarding common running injuries, their causes, remedies and of course, how to avoid them in the first place. This lead me to Christopher McDougall’s national bestseller, Born to Run, which in turn enticed me to read several articles by Dr. Lieberman of Harvard University regarding studies that compared traditional heel strikers to those runners who made contact with their mid foot or the balls of their feet. Once this trickle of information began to seep in, the floodgates opened and I was researching everything I could about natural running, barefoot running, minimalist running, Danny Dreyer’s Chi running and Dr. Romanov’s POSE Method.

 I began very conservatively by walking barefoot on a treadmill for 30 minutes, three times per week. After two weeks, I transitioned to a barefoot, walk-jog session on the treadmill for 30 minutes in duration, three times per week. After two weeks I began running barefoot on the treadmill three times per week, building my aerobic capacity, as well as my foot, ankle and tendon strength to a level in which I could sustain 30 minutes of continuous running.

 Feeling confident, I began a commonly referred to Couch to 5k training regimen on the treadmill. It wasn’t as easy as pie, but my preparation made it manageable and I felt no pain or discomfort while running. Only the normal post work out soreness of muscles and lactic acid.

 Inspired by my progress I moved on to a 10k training plan designed by the same company and also moved one of my weekly runs to the roads. I was aware that the impact and forces of road running would be significantly different than the treadmill, and had no intention of pushing the envelope in regards to injury.

 Yesterday was Day 1 of the fourth week of 10k training.  I had completed an 8k run on Monday and yesterday was to be a slow, comfortable 5k recovery run. I was also going to begin running two sessions per week on the road.  My Achilles disagreed.

 So now I am sidelined. In no man’s land. Waiting. Brooding. Sulking. Thinking. Analyzing. Asking questions. Did this happen because:

  • Every route I run outdoors has numerous hills, over taxing my Achilles?
  • Am I over pronating and causing excessive torque on my Achilles?
  • Are my calves severely tight and stretching my Achilles unnecessarily?
  • Am I landing properly or too much on the balls of my feet, adding undue stress?
  • Am I running too fast? (highly unlikely)
  • Are my joints and tendons simply responding to an accumulated work load to which they are unaccustomed?

So many variables. So many possibilities. And with only my limited abilities at self perception available to offer feedback during training sessions my fear is that I will begin a new cycle of injuries and ailments. Maybe no longer my knees, but simply a migration to a neighboring joint, tendon or socket of anatomical and bio-mechanical failures.

 Today is Day 1 of recovery.

 RICE. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.

 Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

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Latitude and Longitude

Posted: June 21, 2012 in misc
Tags: , ,

The world continues to shrink day by day. New and improved technologies have made communicating with friends, family and strangers on the other side of the globe as easy as a click of the mouse. Airlines can deposit us in foreign lands within a business day for the most part. And the internet has created business, employment and income opportunities that provide the possibility for pulling up your roots and transplanting yourself practically anywhere that tickles your fancy.

map costa rica

So that’s what I did.  I sold everything I owned of any reasonable value (not much) and made my way to Costa Rica. I wish I could claim it was an exciting and dangerous journey, trekking through the rain forest and  crossing raging rivers while dodging crocodiles and jaguars. But honestly, it’s a three hour flight from Miami to Juan Santamaria International Airport, and the relatively modern infrastructure of the capital city, San Jose.

My income originates primarily from several internet based ventures. It’s fantastic to not have a physical storefront, leases, or a warehouse full of depreciating inventory! Whenever I am not in front of the computer at home, I can manage my business via all the normal email, skype and other related applications from my android phone. The freedom from commuting to and from an office everyday cannot be overstated.

My wife and her family, originally from Colombia, have lived in Costa Rica for over ten years. So I was comforted by the fact that by living here we would have a support network for her and the children, as opposed to in the United States where my family is fairly large in number, but spread out over a variety of states.

I maintain a legal residence in the States and file my taxes every year.  And we may chose to live there permanently some day.  But for now, we are an immigration officer’s worst nightmare: American father, Colombian mother and children born in Costa Rica.

The world continues to shrink, day by day.

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