A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beautiful Day, Part II

KU WINS!!!! ROCK CHALK, BABY!! Cinderella has left the ball. Bring on Roy's baby blue boys.

What a game. Davidson is a great team. Underrated. A 10 seed? Are you kidding me? The tournament committee must have forgotten that they played UNC, Duke and UCLA back in November and December, losing by 4, 6 and 12, respectively. Nevermind that two of those teams are in the Final Four. Davidson didn't lose a game in 2008...until today.

I rode my new Cannondale Synapse 3 on my CycleOps Fluid2 indoor trainer during the first half of the game, working off nervous energy. The game started slow, and so did I, trying out my cycling legs for the first time since September 22, 2007. But getting back on a bike was kind of, well, like riding a bike.

I worked on keeping my cadence above 90 rpm, something I think riding on an indoor trainer will help me improve on. After all, it's Lance's secret to success. During commercials I revved up to 100-110 rpms. Thank goodness college basketball timeouts are only 30 and 60 seconds long (except for those darned TV timeouts)! This routine made for a nice interval workout, and helped me survive the stress of the first half.

After showering at the half I settled in to the couch to watch the second half but found that sitting still was a problem as the game see-sawed back and forth. KU leading by 6, Davidson leading by 4, KU leading by 6 again, Davidson cutting it to 2 on a Stephen Curry three-pointer with one minute remaining. It was torture...but the Jayhawks prevailed and all's well that ends well.

It's another beautiful day in Castle Rock, CO.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beautiful Day

Today had to be a top ten day in my lifetime. Seriously. First thought of the day as I woke up was that the Kansas Jayhawks won last night to advance to the Elite Eight. As the sun rose in the east and began to light up the mountains outside our bedroom window, it was clear that today would be one of those sunny blue sky Denver days we've come to expect (Denver ranks as the ninth sunniest city in the US behind Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson, El Paso, Fresno, Sacramento, Albuquerque and Los Angeles...in that order...followed by sunny San Diego at number 10).

After lounging in bed for a while we finally crawled out from under the covers and I took my first shower since my shoulder surgery 10 days ago. May not seem like much, but it was so nice to stand under the hot running water and not have to wash my hair in the sink (I had to keep the wound dry until they removed the staples at my follow-up appointment yesterday).

Next on the agenda we took Casey to the dog park. Hanging out at the dog park drinking a latte on a sunny Saturday morning has become one of our favorite weekend activities. Casey loves it, too, especially when her friend Duke (unfortunate name but cool Golden Retriever) shows up, as he did today.

But here's where the day gets REALLY good. After dropping off Casey at home for a good nap we drove to Treads in Parker to pick up MY NEW BIKE! What a sweet ride. Well, I haven't actually ridden it yet, but it looks sweet! This afternoon I got it set up in our study/exercise room (right next to leslie's elliptical trainer) on a CycleOps Fluid2 indoor trainer and am planning to go for my first "ride" tomorrow.

Wait...the beautiful day keeps getting better. Leslie, Casey and I went for a 3-mile hike late this afternoon, heading straight out our back door to the top of Williams Ridge (pictured at top and left), heading south along the ridge. Within minutes of our house we climbed to the top of the mesas for unbelievable views of the Front Range from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak.

Could it get any better? Sure it could. For dinner tonight I grilled up a big thick Coleman Natural Beef ribeye and two romaine hearts for Leslie's new grilled romaine salad with roasted garlic aioli...which she ripped off (and improved) from the Phillips Chop House in Kansas City (we ate there twice when back in KC for the Big 12 Tournament -- very good).

Check out that grill work (above)...perfect medium rare on the steak. I sear my steaks directly over the coals for five minutes per side, then move them to the other side, cover the grill and let my Weber Kettle do it's magic for another 15-20 mins (to get the perfect steak everytime, follow these three easy steps). For the romaine hearts, I just put them on the grill (over the coals) for about 3 minutes after taking the steak off (it needs to rest for about five mins before cutting anyway). Leslie drizzled a little olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette over the lettuce before grilling, then topped with the roasted garlic aioli and some fresh ground pepper before serving. Yummy!

Last week the vegan community staged "National Meat Out Day" so I declared today, "National Eat Beef Day" and urged all my family to eat beef for dinner. I figure the impact my family alone had on beef consumption yesterday was bigger than a bunch of vegans not eating meat for a day!

Only thing that could have made the day any better is if Louisville had beaten North Carolina in tonight's east regional final. Would have been fun to see Roy Williams cry after watching him shed tears year after year when KU's season ended early under his reign as the coach of the Jayhawks. Oh well, KU just needs to beat Davidson tomorrow to earn a matchup with Roy's baby blue boys in the Final Four so we can send Roy, Tyler and Co. home early ourselves!

Let's just hope Sunday is half as good. Rock Chalk, baby!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter from the Couch Potato

Were you expecting the Easter Bunny? What you see is what I've been doing for the past 5 days -- sitting on the couch, remote in my left hand, painkillers, cough drops and a glass of water within reach on the end table. If it weren't for March Madness (Go Jayhawks!), I think I'd have gone mad by now!

My collarbone surgery seems to be healing fine. My biggest issues since the surgery have been side effects related to the hydrocodone painkiller (a.k.a. Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, etc.) my doctor prescribed and a chest cold that set in the day before the surgery.

I don't like hydrocodone at all. In fact, I stopped taking it on Friday after I woke up from a nap so disoriented I didn't know where I was (didn't recognize my own family room) or what I was doing (sitting on the couch watching basketball, of course). It took about 30 minutes to break out of this mental fog and sort things out in my brain. And the dreams I had while sleeping in a hydrocodone haze were extremely active, vivid, and sometimes disturbing. I often woke up in a cold sweat with my heart racing. I'd rather suffer through pain than go insane taking hydrocodone!

I suppose everyone reacts to different painkillers diferently, but I would never recommend hydrocodone to a friend. I much preferred the hydromorphone (dilaudid) I took after breaking my collarbone in September. It relieved the pain with little to no side effects.

I've also found that it is no fun to be sick at the same time you are recovering from surgery. What felt like a minor sore throat the night before my surgery has turned into a full blown chest cold. I'm not sure if my cold/cough was made worse by the anethesia I received during surgery. Apparently there is little concern about receiving anesthesia if you have a cold. I mentioned it to my doctor and he said that as long as I wasn't running a fever, I'd be fine. But I can tell you that having a chest cold has not made recovery very pleasant...coughing spasms don't feel great when you have a large incision in your upper chest area!

I know, I sound like a whiner. I'll admit that I'm a big baby when I get sick. I want my mom to be there to make everything feel better. But Leslie has been there for me -- bringing me tapioca pudding*, cottage cheese*, an occasional bowl of chicken soup (can't believe I publicly admitted eating fowl!) and even scrambled eggs* and toast for dinner one night. She does a great job of filling in for mom (just don't tell her I said so!). I'm sure I've been a real treat to be around...whining by day and wheezing by night. Thanks, Les!


*By the way, it may be best to avoid dairy products and eggs when taking most painkillers...at least be sure to add some fiber into your diet for good measure :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Installing New Hardware

Gone are the days of clearing airport security without setting off the metal detector...or are they? Apparently not all surgical hardware sets off those machines, but it's hard for me to believe that the titanium plate and seven screws pictured above wouldn't sound the alarm! Regardless, I'm just happy to get the surgery over and start the long road to recovery...again.

The surgery went very smoothly, from my perspective. After donning a lovely dressing gown and blue hat, Dr. Craig Loucks autographed my right collarbone (a new protocol to prevent surgery on the wrong body part -- you can make out the "CL" in the photo at left), the anesthesiologist gave me a "three glasses of wine" cocktail (administered through the IV in my arm) and the nurse wheeled me off to the operating room.

I barely remember moving from the gurney to the operating table. Next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery (at left) feeling no pain (and no nausea!).

Apparently the surgery went well from Dr. Loucks viewpoint, as well, except for a 30 minute delay while waiting for the Fedex guy to deliver the bone graft material!

But even with that delay I headed home with my shiny new titanium collarbone about 5 hours after arriving at the hospital.

I've spent the past seven hours parked on my couch dozing on and off. So far the pain and discomfort has been considerably less than what I experienced after the initial break. I hope that holds true when I crawl into bed tonight!

Thanks for everyone's thoughts and prayers. Keep sending positive vibes my way. I'm hoping for a speedy recovery and looking forward to picking up my new bike later this month and getting back the road again to begin training for Ride the Rockies!


Monday, March 17, 2008

March Madness

Sitting at the airport in Kansas City waiting for my flight back to Denver after a week-long trip which took me to San Antonio and then to KC for the Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament. What a week! Actually, it has been a crazy seven weeks on the road -- Reno, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Austin, Manhattan (KS), Dallas, San Antonio, and KC. [At left: Going for a run on San Antonio's famed Riverwalk]

I'm really looking forward to laying around this week recovering from my collarbone surgery tomorrow! As Jimmy Buffet sang, "I must confess, I could use some rest. I can't run at this pace for very long!" (from "Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season")

The past four days in KC have been a great way to lead into rehab...for my collarbone! My wife Leslie, brother Jon, cousins Wiley and Ryan, and college buddy Tom all met in KC to cheer on our beloved Kansas Jayhawks. Four days of basketball, beef and beer (not too mention several fine bottles of Chateau Montalena and Far Niente!). And, of course, KU won.

The new Sprint Center arena and Power and Light District (bars and restaurants) have definitely changed the appearance and attraction of downtown KC. [At left: Leslie, me, Ryan, Wiley and Jon enjoy a pre-game beverage in the Power and Light District]

There is still a lot work to be done to revitalize downtown KC, but the new arena and P&L District are a great start. For KC's sake, I hope the famous line from Field of Dreams -- If you build it...they will come -- proves true in this case.

The final game of the tourney between Kansas and Texas was well worth the price of admission (about $150 from scalpers on the street). It was one of the best games I have ever seen live. [At left: Ryan, Jon and Wiley at the Big 12 Championship Game]

KU coach Bill Self likened the game to the first half of the 1988 National Championship game played at KC's old Kemper Arena. Kansas and Oklahoma met in that classic battle between two Big 8 teams (and, of course, KU won!).

The first half of the '88 NCAA Championship game ended 50-50 as both teams scored at will. The 2008 Big 12 Championship game was played at a similar frenzied pace with both teams draining threes all afternoon (KU hit a Big 12 tournament record 15 and Texas hit 12 in 28 attempts). Texas led by one point at halftime and KU still trailed by one late in the game before closing with a 14-3 run to win by 10 (84-74).

The similarity between the two games was captured by KU coach Bill Self in the following interview with the Lawrence Journal-World...

“It is pretty corny, but at halftime I told the team in front of Danny (Manning, assistant coach) ... I said, ‘That’s probably as good a half of basketball played in Kansas City since the ’88 championship game,’” Self said of a 50-50 halftime score in KU’s 83-79 victory over Oklahoma on April 4, 1988, at Kemper Arena.

“I asked Danny, ‘What happened the second half of that game?’ He said the game slowed down and we guarded. That’s what happened today. We defended and rebounded the ball much better the second half and played about as complete a game as we’ve ever played.”

Is this a sign that KU will return to the NCAA Championship game this year in San Antonio? Who knows. But I do know this: as I head back to KC and prepare for surgery tomorrow I am looking forward to the start of the greatest sporting event on Earth.

Bring on March Madness!


Monday, March 10, 2008

Under the Knife

I know it sounds weak, but I'm actually starting to get a little nervous about going "under the knife" next week. It's just that I've never been put under nor had anyone cut into my skin with a knife. Don't get me wrong. I've been unconscious several times and cut into many times (with a door, window, hanging light fixture, chain link fence, rocks, a rear view mirror and even a knife)...but never on purpose.

Probably the closest I've come to being cut open with a surgeon's knife is when I worked in the meat department of Pence's IGA in Ottawa, Kansas, during college at Ottawa University. It was my first job in the meat business, foreshadowing a career that led me to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. My job was to come in every afternoon and clean up the "cutting room" after the meat cutters had gone home. After washing all the knives and cutting boards in big sinks filled with a mixture of bleach and water, I would lay them out to dry.

On this particular day one of the knives (the largest one, of course) slipped from my hand and dropped straight down (point down, of course) slicing through the top of my boot, top of my foot, bottom of my foot, and bottom of my boot before hitting the concrete floor (at least it was sterile!). After pulling off my boot I learned what they mean when they say, "bleeding like a stuck pig."

Blood was spurting with every beat of my heart as I hobbled to the house phone, picked it up and announced to the entire store that I needed immediate help in the meat department. If I'd been thinking, I would have said, "Clean up on aisle 911," or something clever like that. But it worked nonetheless and it seemed like everyone working in the store came to my aid (something in my voice must have communicated the urgency!).

After being wheeled out of the store on a produce cart holding my foot as high above my heart as possible, I was transported to Ransom Memorial Hospital (affectionately known to students as "Rancid Memorial") where I received stitches in the top -- and bottom -- of my left foot. Somehow the knife had managed to slice cleanly through my foot without hitting either bone or tendon. I was lucky.

But I digress...

I had a pre-op appointment with Dr. Craig Loucks at Peak Orthopedics this afternoon. He went over plans for the surgery, which include cutting me open (we've been over that), putting the pieces of my collarbone back in place with a titanium plate and pins, and filling in the fracture with Bone Morphogenic Protein (BMP) to stimulate the formation of new bone at the site of the fracture. As Dr. Loucks described it, BMP is like silly putty with bone cells in it. Pretty cool stuff.

If all goes well I'll be riding on my new bike (on a stationary trainer) by mid-April and back out on the road by my 44th birthday (May 15). Wish me luck...or keep me in your prayers. Whatever works for you. I'll take the good vibes!