Thursday, October 30, 2008


I've had a lot of strange leg problems over the past month. Shin problems, arches hurting, sore ankles. And this has been even with very little running. But things started getting pretty bad Tuesday morning in my left foot and have been getting worse to the point that it was becoming painful to walk at times. I went in to see a doctor today.

He took X-rays, there's no fracture. He suspects it's either "Peroneal Longus Tendinitis", "Lateral Plantar Fasciitis" or "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla". Basically I guess it's an overly stretched tendon. The doctor told me that this is a problem more commonly found with women, because they wear high heals without much side support. Gee, thanks Doc. I DID change running shoes recently, so it's possible they caused the problem. Which would totally suck because this would be the second pair of shoes I bought this month that caused me trouble.

Basically, there's nothing the doctor can do. He put a padded band-aid on my foot and told me if it still hurts in two weeks he'll give me an injection of cortisone. TWO WEEKS?! But it hurts NOW. He told me I could try some Aleve. Swell.

This whole thing is driving me crazy. I can't ride my bike (pulled IT band). I can't run. Even once my foot does heal, there's a good chance I'll need new running shoes yet again and I've already tried a half-dozen pairs and haven't found shoes that 1) feel comfortable and 2) don't destroy my feet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Close Call

The title of this post almost was "Brief Encounter", but fortunately it didn't come to that.

Normally when I workout after work, I change my clothes at red lights in the car. And a little bit while driving too. And I change EVERYTHING. This way, once I arrive at Griffith Park I can hop out and I'm ready to go. For once, I decided to do things a little safer tonight and got changed at work. I didn't want to walk through the building wearing a tank top, so I just changed my shorts. But I would have looked ridiculous wearing shorts and a dress shirt. So I went into the bathroom, put on my shorts and pulled my pants over them. This meant I had a pair of underwear left over. I thought ahead, and brought a small box into the mens room with me. It had my laptop in it; I just threw the undies on top.

I got into the elevator with a co-worker who asked me "what ya got in the box?" "Ummmm... my laptop." Thank goodness he didn't ask me if it was a Mac or PC or anything else that would have required me to open the box and answer the unasked question of boxers or briefs. But I've learned my lesson, and from now on I'm getting changed driving down the streets like a normal person.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Band of Bothers

I went in to get my bike-fit checked. I've been having problems with my feet and legs when I ride (or run, or walk, or sit) and I wanted to know if my bike was causing the problem, or if the bike was just making an existing problem more noticeable. Brandon (bike-fitter and triathlon trainer) gave me a good look-over, it seems like my bike is fine but I probably pulled my IT Band (among other issues.) This was a similar problem I had before the 1/2 Ironman in March. What caused it to come back? Well, Brandon said it could be a result of a lot of strenuous activity (Ironman), followed by a period of strenuous INactivity (July), followed by more activity (Lake Arrowhead Tri.) So I guess I have to do a lot of stretching and stuff now.

I told Brandon that I was doing Ironman Wisconsin. He told me "That's a tough course." I know. "The swim is rough." Got it. "It's very narrow, a lot of fighting in the water." Bad swim. I understand. "A lot of hills on the bike." Are you done yet? "The hills never stop coming." OK STOP TALKING!

I told him I was looking to buy a new bike, and he said I should take a look at the Specialized Transition. I said that the decision really wasn't up to me, that I wouldn't be able to buy a bike without getting approval from Jon. Brandon said that Jon has a Transition, or had one, so it shouldn't be an issue. What's good for Jon isn't necessarily good for Wedgie (or Wedgie's wallet), but I'll probably try to ride one this weekend.

Monday, October 20, 2008

How not to join a gym

I kinda embarrassed myself. But not much.

I went running at a gym. My feet have been really messed up lately and I thought the best thing for them (besides not running at all) would be to run on a soft, even treadmill. I had one of those "come try our gym free" passes so I gave it a try.

I don't like gyms. They make me feel uncomfortable, like I don't belong there. And I was even more self-conscious since this was my first time there and I was one of those cheapskates looking for a free workout. Fortunately, it wasn't too crowded. There were a couple of Rather Large Gentlemen walking (strutting) around which didn't help, but I found a treadmill off to the side where I could just do my thing quietly without drawing any attention to myself.

I was running for about 35 minutes (which is super-long for me on a treadmill; I get bored after about, oh, 3 minutes) and I thought I'd do a little interval. I put a buph song on the iPod ("Praise Him" by Fatboy Slim), hit the "Faster!" button a bunch of times and went for it. And I was feeling pretty good for about 60 seconds. Then all of a sudden the treadmill just stopped. Thankfully I didn't fall, but the thing just started beeping like crazy. "BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP..." I hit every button I could find but couldn't get it to shut up. I had to go to the front desk and say "um, I kinda broke your machine." One of the trainers came over and couldn't get it to reset, so it wasn't just a minor bug. Not exactly the low-profile I was hoping for.

I know that treadmills break down all the time. But deep down, I like to think that I was running so fast on it that it just couldn't keep up with me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New bike: the quest begins

I went bike shopping with Robert and OGMP (the Original Michael P) today. We went to 3 shops, and none of them had my size in any of the bikes I was interested in.

I have two options: I can get a "Road Bike", or I can get a "Triathlon Bike". But this is what makes my head spin: the prevailing advice is "if you want to get a bike for triathlons, don't get a triathlon bike.". Tri bikes are designed for flat, straight courses where you can just drop down into the aero position and stay there. They are not good for hills. Many people have two bikes; a road bike for when they are out training doing hills, and then a tri bike for races. Yet it never seems to occur to these salespeople that maybe a triathlon would have hills. What kind of races do I do? Malibu Triathlon: short hills. Arrowhead: nothing but hills and sharp turns. Ironman Coeur d'Alene: hills. Wisconsin '09: worse hills. Wildflower: Mega-hills. So my question is this: where are all of these flat triathlons people are doing where they can actually use a tri bike? Because obviously I'm signing up for the wrong races.

At the first shop I rode a Cervelo P2C. It was a little big for me (I need a 51-52, they had a 54), but I think I kind of liked it. Shop #2 was a major Specialized dealer so I rode one of their bikes I never heard of. I didn't like it, and the salesguy kept asking me what exactly I didn't like about it. Over the past 4 years, I've ridden only one bike so I don't know the vocabulary to describe it. Was it stiff? Not responsive? I have no idea. Didn't like it, end of discussion, leave me alone.

Apparently I got a little snippy at shop #3. They had a 54cm Cervelo I wanted to try (I don't remember which model). I told the saleslady "I'm interested in this bike, but I'd like to test ride a 52. Do you have one in that size?" She went away to check, came back and told me "we don't have that bike in that size, but we have the frame so we could build you a bike." I didn't understand. Would they build me a bike so I could come back tomorrow for a test ride, or was this only if I wanted to buy the bike? So I asked her "well what do you mean you would 'build a bike'"? She wasn't helpful: "If you want the bike, we can build it for you."

"I don't want to buy a bike without riding it first. Would I be able to ride the 52?"
"We don't have the bike, but we have the frame so we could build it for you."
"OK, but what does that MEAN?! Can I ride it?"
"If you want the bike, we can build it."

Just forget it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cry Baby

I'm pretty much hating all things triathlon these days.

For starters, I'm signed up for Ironman Wisconsin next September. I just don't want to do it. My peak training will be in August in Los Angeles. Not gonna be a fun summer.

I want a new bike, but I feel completely paralyzed by the bike-buying process. You can't just go in to a bike shop and go for a test ride the way you would at a car dealership. A bike has to be a specific size for you, and I don't want to buy a bike until I have a really good idea how it will feel. I could request that a specific size bike be sent to a specific store, but I won't know what bike to ask for until I ride one. People suggest to me "just go to Helen's in Santa Monica- they have tons of bikes." Two problems with that: 1) It's in Santa Monica, which is a pain to get to. 2) When I bought my current bike, I went to Helen's in Santa Monica and their sister store in Beverly Hills. Both places treated me like crap. That's right, I'll say it: Helen's sucks.

I thought there was something wrong with my bike pedal or shoot, like it was twisted or something because my outer leg hurts for about 2 days after I ride. But now I think there may be just something bigger wrong with me. I have not been running in over a week, but my shins are hurting. There is a constant tension which sometimes escalates to a sharp pain in the arch of my left foot. My right ankle is sore. It's been getting worse over the past week.

I think it may have been that the shoes I wear every day are worn out, and I need new running shoes anyway so I started shopping for those. I found a pair that felt good in the store, clearance sale no returns, wore them for a day and my feet felt worse than before. So I'm stuck with a brand new pair of shoes I can't wear. Yesterday I went out and found another pair which I'll try to wear tomorrow. I think I tried on 8 or 10 pairs of running shoes this week. I'm not looking for a shoe that will optimize my running, I just want something that won't hurt my feet. I don't understand why this is so hard but it's really frustrating.

I guess I'm just feeling... what's the word? Old.