Monday, September 22, 2014

The Kitchen Could Not Wait

If you like before and after pictures, here is a good example of our kitchen Saturday morning and Sunday morning.    We had discussed a remodel and finally the under the house work was far enough along to do the above floor work.  Access under the house was impossible and I have removed 16 yards of dirt to improve the access.   We removed a set of steps which were incredibly steep and a brick facade on the fireplace.    Once we started the work, I noticed some odd looking construction and finally figured out that the fireplace brick work was all a facade to the original--which is yellow and brick colored in the bottom picture.   We had not planned on removing all the added brick work, but until the dust starts flying, you have no idea what is going to appear.     In the end, it turns out we will have significantly more room than we had anticipated from this job. 

The corner where the stairs were will be a kitchen workspace/ storage that we will close in with some new walls. The fireplace will be bricked up and covered with some smoother wall covering.  It is quite rough and very dirty in its current state.   At day's end,  the houses' original floor and walls were exposed.   The current pine floor had been added as had the dry wall.  The orignal materials were all wood-- floor, ceiling and walls.   It had to pretty cold on a windy day in that old kitchen.  

In the stairwell, I added a floor and it is now the best closet in the house.  We have had enough time to size up our new space and have some ideas on how to maximize the kitchen  are finally getting discussed.   It is always exciting to find some new in an old house.   Some of this wood has not been exposed for 134 years, by the way, it was pretty dry when I removed it.  

This weekend, we have our District Qualifier in central Tennessee.  I will run so I can run the State Finals next summer.   But, the gout has came back after about a week of relief.   My foot was killing my Sunday while I was getting the floor installed.  I am going to a doctor today and try and get this thing fixed.   Training has been out of the question, just getting healthy is the current regiment.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Joys of Aging

Last weekend Linda I traveled to Lexington, KY for their State Finals track meet.   The weather was perfect temperature wise, but a stiff breeze was blowing down the finish straight and fast times were not going to happen that day.  I would call the meet frazzled in term of organization.   It started on time, but the heat races were all intermingled and you had no idea who was in your class.   Also there was almost no rest between the different heats.  It was 50, 100, 1500 --some resting--200, 400, 800.  I ran the 50, 100, 200 and skipped the 400.  I would have had about 5 minutes to recover from the 200 and was still gassed.  I wanted to run the 200 as fast as I could and finished second by 0.03 seconds, had it won and it slipped away in the last 15 meters.  In the 50 and 100 I finished 6 th in each!!  We did not get the results on race day, it was electronic timing and they had to sort the classes out and they it plenty tangled.  I found out about my finishes the next day when I checked in on line.  

The times were not fast, due to the wind and the chaos at the meet.  But two 6 th places was really bothering me- a lot.  I had changed my training for this meet and it was a test for my times.   Well, I stunk and that experiment was DOA.   The competition was very good, I nearly won the 200,  but stunk in the short races.  There were people there from at least 6 states I raced against.  A bunch of the fast folks from TN also ran.   They finished well, but their times were pedestrian as well.

I think the answer showed up yesterday.   About two weeks ago my left big toe in the big joint was ouchy and I thought my mining under the house was starting some turf toe.   So I was icing the foot and it was doing OK and I could run and walk around without much pain.   Yesterday, the shit hit the fan.   My left foot was swelling, impossible to get the pain under control and time to take action. I even got a pain pill off  Dr. Linda.  Not much help.  I am still thinking turf toe--by the way this is the problem that forced Deon Sanders to retire.   Linda took me to Good Feet to look for a plate to put in shoe to prevent flexing--typical treatment for TT.   They were no help, pricey, but no help.  
We then went to the local urgent care--nicest people you will ever meet- and asked for some help.  I told them my left foot was hurting and since I had been there twice for walking pneumonia, I was in the system and in the door in 5 minutes.  The doctor and I chatted for 5 minutes, he said  GOUT, and I was just totally surprised, that is for OLD people,  I am not old people yet!  We took some X rays and it was gout.   On the X ray of my left foot, a bone that was broken on the outside of my little toe side of my foot in 1980 or 1981 had never healed.  It was about 3/4 inch long and just floating in there.  I have wondered why at certain times I can feel it causing some pinching, now I know, it is floating around.    I wore that walking cast for 6 weeks until I cut it off myself, must have needed another couple of weeks. 

I chatted with the other tech and he ran track in college and was a 400 meter specialist.  We were really getting into it and had to shut up to get the X-rays and also to get out of the place.  He ran some 47's in college, nice kid. He understood the crap I go thru for each 400 race.
The doctor and I talked about treatment, by then I had Linda involved to make sure there we no screw ups on my part, and he said "two shots and you are gonna be feeling a lot better in 20 minutes".  Two shots and I felt better in 3 minutes and basically walked out the door with out a limp.  We were there for a total of 40 minutes and were done!!!  I love that place.  When we looked at the bill, I had a credit on my account, I really really  love this place.   It is called Physcians Urgent Care, open 7 days a week. 

I picked up some meds today that will go for 4 days.   Looking back at the last weeks, I have had some changes in my diet that were the cause of the gout flare up.  Hot dogs, smoked sausage and bacon are going to getting winnowed off the diet plan.  I have already cut out 75% of my beer, so I will need to keep that consumption limited.  Other foods will be swapped out, but it will done.  

I think the gout was a factor in my lousy performance, not an excuse,  but enough of an edge removed that I was not at optimum strength.  I have to really force the action to have good times and finishes.  My next meet is the district qualifier in two weeks.  Typically this is a jog fest, you just need to finish, but I will have to check my 50 and 200 times against the clock, to make sure the experiment was effected by gout.  Gout is for old people, I am not an old guy yet!!  Or am I?? 

We also went to IKEA in Cincinnati during our trip to Lexington and ate at one of favorite restaurant--Pappadeaux's.   Great seafood and cajun food.  We enjoyed some great salmon and redfish.  Yum. At IKEA we bought a load of chairs and a kitchen table for our kitchen remodel, some doors for the closet in the laundry room, a Billy bookshelf and some wedding stuff.    We need IKEA in Nashville, bad!!

Linda and I also acknowledged our tenth wedding anniversary this week.  Neither was in good enough shape to celebrate last week or this weekend, but "by gum" we are going to go out to dinner tomorrow before something else crops up to sicken or maim either one of us.   This partying is harder than you think.   'Sickness stuff 'was in our vows, we are really getting thru that section slowly as of recent times.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How BIG is your Stage???

Next Sunday I will be running in in the Kentucky State Finals.  Kentucky is fun event, no pressure to qualify and the field has a lot of people from surrounding states, so you get  really good competition.   The lack of pressure makes a big difference, pressure can kill a great performance.     I made some changes in my training and want to see how it effects my speed-- I have worked a lot more on fitness and less on speed and strength.  I am looking to break 27 seconds in the 200 m which would be a personal best with electronic timing.
   I will work on starts and a little speed work this week and make sure I do a very complete stretching routine each day.   I do have a couple of minor dings on my left side.  My hip is sore and and my left foot has the beginning stages of turf toe.   Neither will be a factor in what I will be running this weekend, but long term I will need to address them.   I will have a lot of tape on my feet to hold them together for a couple of races. 

Now the real point of this blog.   Linda and I traveled to the Ravenwood football game at Clarksville last Friday.  The first half was a nail biter, and then they pulled away in the second half and won easily.    While sitting in the stands with the Ravenwood fans, the chatter was constant behind us by various women.  Linda could hear it all, I have a good set of "man ears" that can dial out women voices and concentrate on football.  I put my man ears to good use for this game.  I asked a couple of times about two different women--  " Do they ever shut up?"  the answer from Linda was "NO"!   Thank you man ears--they should sell them on TV..   Women would love them too!
    The one girl behind us was in college and went on and on and on about her sorority.  She was recruiting everyone and if she did not get in, she might have left the school........ yada yada yada.  That got me to thinking about why you would be so involved in the Greek life.   It is a prearranged family and friends and you also will constantly be involved with other fraternities and sororities in after school functions and the rest of your life.  Does this not limit your social life and the rest of your world??   Yes it does in my opinion. 

I was not in a fraternity in college due the fact that I was way too independent to live in that environment, plus they would have run me off pretty quick for various reasons including being poor. I did not want to limit my universe, I wanted to compete on a bigger stage, that has been true since my high school days.  I was taking Paper Science and was going to work in a field that would be global in nature, Greek connections would be of little help.   The woman talking about her Greek life was limiting her universe, probably for the rest of her life, because she was really just interested in her college and her Greek friends.  She was only going to compete on that stage, which in my opinion is way too small.   She may be a superstar there, but that would be way too small for my tastes.  She does not need to limit her universe, but is choosing that life.    

I was watching Apollo 13 last night and of course got a good cry or two.  That is a great movie.    But Fred Haise has a couple of great lines and one is " most of my friends never left the small town I was from and look at me--in space.  I would have never figured that."  There is way too many people still in the small towns, not dreaming big enough.

I have always told Linda to "dream big" and I mean it.   Dream big and try to acheive your dreams.     Some people do not have the chance to dream big and attempt to achieve them due to  various situations beyond their control.   But, many people limit their dreams and chances because they can't'.   NO, you will not try hard enough-- too big a chance of failure or you may hurt some feeling along the way, or beat someone else out for the job, or lack the drive.     I have always tried to compete in the biggest arenas and stages that I could find a way to get in the door.   I work in a global environment, compete at the National level in track, and enjoy people and cultures from all over the world.  I have had multiple opportunities to be a the big fish in a little pond and avoid any chance of failure, but I have always wanted to get to the elite level and seek out the elite competition and have managed to get there.    Competing and winning at the highest levels is way sweeter.   Everyone should a least give it a shot, one time.  Don't settle, you will surprise your self. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fall is creeping closer

The weather finally gave us a little break.   Last week the humidity was off the chart and it was rough to do anything outside--like run.   The humidity has finally given way to clear skies and lower humidity with a slight breeze--the beginning of the Fall feel.   Fall is my favorite time of year, clearing and less humidity, football and harvest time as well.    This year I have two meets in the Fall, The first Sunday in September in Lexington, Ky and later in the month the Greater Nashville District Qualifier will be held near the river in Nashville. 

Last night I started to work on some of the speed work required for the sprinting.  I went to one of favorite spots at Crockett Park and ran on the soccer fields.   I ran several 100 m sprints on the grass with spikes to find my pace for the 400 m.  My pace was pretty solid at 14.6 to 15.0 seconds for each pass.   I will continue to work on the speed work till race day in Kentucky.    I am continuing to experiment with compression wear on my legs and arms as well.  The arm compression sounds goofy, but I have seen some of the women Olympian sprinter use them.   I thought they were just an add for Nike, but there appears to be some merit.   I plan on using them in KY to see if they do anything.  They have all their sprints in one afternoon, so recovery will be key to success.  I have a pair of Adidas made that I like and wear, they are tight and getting them on is a struggle. 

I have several sets of arm covers, some are compression, some are not.   I do have one set that is bright pink and I look like a old man with water wings when I use them.  see below. 
I have settled on my basic equipment for this season, I like to get into something new each season to see if it helps and it also keeps my interest in the training.  Training can be a drag if you let it, so I like to change it up with new gear whenever possible.
As far as my fitness and health, my left hip is a little achy, but that is from a combination of running and also of my mining activities. I started to remove more dirt from under the house so I could get access to area under where we will be redoing the kitchen. The head space is now close to 5 feet in some areas, but a lot of bending and dragging is required to get the dirt out. I purchased an electric hammer to chisel the dirt loose and that has greatly speeded up the process and eliminated the use of the pick axe. I still sweat buckets for some reason while working on this project--I call it my core and hip workout. We have settled on the general layout and look for the kitchen. We are now working on getting a new dining room table for the kitchen and starting to locate materials needed to make the changes.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Unknown

Linda picked some of our sunflowers and set them up in her little vase that greets anyone entering our back door.  I kinda looks like a Dr. Suess scene of happy little flowers singing a song of joy.  

Everybody has their hot buttons and other environmental influences that from time to time can cause distress.   One of my worst causes of stress is being unsure and not knowing what sort of outcome is expected in a certain situation.    I had exhibited this behavior since high school.  For example, when I was in athletics, before each meet or game I was a total wreck in the locker room or just prior to the races because the race or games were up for grabs. Would I be able to perform or just stink the joint up? Self doubt was ridiculous.    I would go the bathroom 5 times in 30 minutes and of course nothing happened of any consequence, but I would get that wound up over competition.  I am getting better now, but not much.

I have been wearing a Nike wrist band for a couple of months that measures the amount of activity or movement over time and calculates some number that represents your  fuel burn.   I call mine, the Tattle Tail, because it lets you know if you are moving or burning any energy.  Last week, during air travel  from Nashville to Spokane , Idaho it was useful  for defining my level of Unknown.    The plane leaving Nashville, was broken and we would have to make new connections ( unknown) to get to Spokane much later than planned.   After getting to Salt Lake City,  that plane was broken as well ( just enough to get me aggravated about this unknown).  2 out of 3 legs had bad planes--Delta does this regularly to me.  I finally made it, 8 hours later than planned and not in the best of humor.  I do not like this sort of failure and Delta had quite a string of failures for me on their regional jets.    Regional Junks would be a better moniker.    I looked at my fuel burn for that day and it was pretty high for someone that sat a lot or walked most of the day.   I could have done a hard workout and not burned that much fuel !!   I was quite stunned at the amount of energy burned and it all relates to the unknown...  I am still not of fan of not knowing and I really do not see this improving much for planes, airports and rental cars.    I am getting better for meets, I have cut down from 5 times in the bathroom to 2 or 3, but at my age there are now legitimate reasons.  I still get pretty ramped up worrying about having a good performance, but that is my wiring and it is not going to change.  Can I win it or do my best??  that is a big unknown that every athlete always struggles.  

I am still doing some of the distance running and have started to do a little weight work.   Linda is working on some strength related activities and I jump in and do some reps.    Last week I was in Idaho and ran on a little high school track with a great view.  The Clearwater River valley was clear, warm and without any real humidity.   Great day to run some 600's.   Work went pretty good as well.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Brentwood Times

Summertime in Brentwood is painting time.   The front fence was in dire need of a paint job.   The last couple weeks, Linda and I worked on the rail fence, each gets a side and off you go, works pretty slick.   I recently finished up the gate and changed the caps on all the posts.   They previous caps were flat pieces of treated lumber that were going to be junk in a very short period of time due to warping and splitting.  Paint was  not enough to protect the tops.     I searched the internet and could only find one supplier of metal caps for a 9 x 9 inch post, so I replaced them all with copper.  I was hoping for something less expensive, but these numbers should outlast the fence and look pretty snappy.   I took the pictures as soon as I was finished, because accidents do happen with mailboxes.  I was hoping that someone would not run thru the fence with a vehicle before it was done.   

For example, many years ago in Ohio I replaced the post that held up the mailbox at my rural residence.  It looked really good, all painted up and pretty.  Next day, a friend of mine ran over it with his motorcycle and tore it out of the ground.  Next day!!  Ok, if that is way is was going to be, I will do a little upgrade on the post so it would not get destroyed so quickly.   I lived in an area where locust trees are common and I cut one of the biggest  ones I could manage for a post. I dug the hole about 4 foot deep and planted the next mail box post and packed the dirt tight.  Now try this on for size.  I figured if the snow plow got a little sloppy on his aim, he might get a little jolt if he hit it, motorcycles and small cars did not have a chance to move this thing.   Matter of fact,  I did the same thing in Wisconsin on our rural residence, I put in really big osage orange post for the mail box.    The post for that mail box would deflect nearly anything  and the snow plows were a serious threat in that area.    Enough about that.

I have been working on a little different style running for the races in September.  I have been running a 3.3 mile loop that is up hill out and mostly down hill back about 4 times a week.  I am trying to get my breathing and heart rate into a range where I only needs shorts rest periods.  I am getting better with my average speed increasing to around 10 min/mile.  I will probably keep up the 'long runs' for another 3 or 4 weeks and then start to work on the 400 and 800 distances again.   

I have also been slowly working my weight down a little, my official weight is now 197.  I have been eating  a lot of fresh garden veggies-- and we have another great garden this summer.  The third batch of corn is getting ripe and we have a lot of cukes, carrots, green beans, peppers, okra and of course tomatoes and basil for caprese salads. It is so much fun to pick it and within minutes, have it eaten.  The kidney and black beans will be ready to pick in a week of two and we will make a big batch of chili for the freezer. .    Yum Yum.   I have also reduced my beer consumption significantly.  I replaced those carbs with real food and some other sugars.  Chocolate milk works pretty darn good.  So far, so good on reducing the beer, I have a couple only one or two nights a week.  That is a big improvement.

As part of the search for the 'clothing advantage' I purchased some 3/4 length tights made by Salomon.  Salomon is known for ski and trail running gear, but these pants seem to be pretty good for my distance running.   Many clothing suppliers claim that the compression wear makes your heart work less over the same distance and recover faster.   These pants are stretch wear with an outer layer "exo" of compression material that are form fitting for the thighs and hips.   I gave them a try with, compression knee socks and compression sleeves. The pants are basically rolled on, they are really tight and take some planning to get on properly.   My entire leg and arms were compressed and I actually felt pretty good on my loop.   I did notice that my heart rate recovery was really rapid when I would take a  break or walk.   I will keep trying different combinations, if nothing else to break the routine or boredom of distance running.

I thought about showing a picture of 'before' from the front of the house taken two years ago.  But I didn't, because it would make you wonder why in the heck we bought this overgrown mess.  And I would have to agree with you.  But,  I am glad we bought the place, now two years in,  we can finally calm down and enjoy the grounds, the really messy stuff outside has been fixed.  The kitchen is next, the plans are already being refined.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Music City

Nashville is the Music City in more ways than one.    Linda and I went downtown last Friday night to get some dinner, one of those situations where you just see what happens.   We were going to eat at a little restaurant in the new Omni Hotel which is right smack in the middle of downtown.   Parking was a piece of cake, give the keys to the valet and the restaurant comps your parking.  Katy Perry was doing a show next door at the Bridgestone, so the place was pretty lively around showtime and a lot of hustle was headed to the arena.   Dinner was fun, we had some southern food done with a little twist, quite good.   Although,  the strawberry -rhubarb pie could not hold a candle to Linda's or Lillian Beeler's.    Linda makes great pie with the lard crust and  some zing to it and Lillian made pie for me while I worked on their farm doing college.  You feed a college kid, he will work his ass off.   Lillian only cut the pie in to 4 pieces!! Get ready for some yum,  the L's both deliver.

After dinner we took a little walk down to Broadway and enjoyed the neon.  The usual crush of tourists and bachelorette party's filled the sidewalks, adult midway at the county fair everyday.   We ducked into Ernest Tubb's record store to check on a new country artist we had heard and  wanted to get his latest stuff.   Ernest Tubb's is breathe of fresh air, a whole lot of signed pictures of artists long gone that were big stars in their day line the walls, some really cool stuff.  A lot of priceless articles.   We wanted to get some Sturgill Simpson,  who we heard on "The Prairie Home Companion" radio show when it was in Nashville.   PHC comes every year to the Ryman and does a show and always has some top flight talent and many times some really good new stuff.  This year along with Brad Paisley and Sam Bush, Sturgill performed.   Wow!!  he was really good.   Garrison really liked him as well.  

I was gawking at some pictures  as we entered the store and Linda marched right into the back part of the store  and picked up  disks released in  2013 and 2014.  Pretty simple to get the hard core stuff in Ernest Tubb's.  When we checked out, the cashier had seen him live and  we chatted about Sturgill's voice and career.   Sturgill sings real country, not reborn rock and roll.  He leaves out the pick up trucks, cutesy crap and writes the real hard core pain and done me wrong stuff.  Sometimes his voice really sounds like Waylon Jennings--really.    I have listened closely to  one album twice and he is great with lyrics, and his stories can stir some real emotion.   We will keep an eye out for him and hopefully get to see him live.   He is gonna be big time pretty darn soon.  Check him out.  

I have been working on road work for my training as of late.   I have been running on a asphalt trail that is over 3 miles long and basically goes past our house.   My wind is improvely slowly, but it is fun and is low risk and I can run late in the evening or whenever.    I have also started experimenting with some new running gear.  Salomon, which is known for skiing and hiking gear, makes some capri type compression pants for men that are designed to compress the thighs and hips and reduce injury and all the other claims.  I bought a pair on sale  at REI and like them quite a bit. They are tight and they take some wiggles and prancing around to get on properly. 
 I will test them for speed perfomance in the near future, but they have really helped keep the leg soreness at a minimum during the longer runs.  I love to play with the new technology and see if I can perform better.