My health report from the general practitioner is all clear except that my HDL is a little low (27mg/dL), my LDL is a bit high (114mg/dL), niacin levels are decreased, and there is no serum-based evidence for rheumatoid arthritis. That last part is good, I guess, although I was diagnosed with RA when I was 15 years old after arthoscopic surgery on my right knee to remove scar tissue from plying football. I understand that since this was nearly fifteen years ago it may have been misdiagnosed so I am going to see a rheumatologist to get another opinion. Then I get to go and see a sports doc to make sure my poor running form is not killing my body and hopefully I can run again soon. I have not run in over a week and it is killing me mentally, but the good news is that despite not running, I have continued to lose weight. I’m now down to just under 211lbs/95.7kg, I am now only 14lbs/6.3kg from my current goal weight. The doctor wants me to hit my post-high school weight of 178lbs/81kg and I do not think that is simply attainable for me. I remember being that thin and how I felt at that weight, I had some serious body image issues. I would freak out if my size 31 jeans fit ever so slightly too tight and would almost cry if I had to buy size 32 jeans. Now I am only two sizes larger, despite being over 30lbs heavier, and I am so much happier. I do not think I will ever get down to my doctor’s target weight, I will be happy getting to under 200. But with a clear health report, I am happy with my current progress and I am sure that as long as I can keep that yummy tasty beer away, I will keep losing weight.

In other updates, I will be registering for the GFLRRC Freedom 5K that will be in June. I do hope that my body holds up until then and then holds up until the mud run in November. Even if I cannot run, I will just walk them, it will still be fun. I am not looking for a PR since I have never run one of these before and it will a record enough just to complete one of these things in the scalding Florida heat of June. At times, I can barely stand to ride my motorcycle in summer because it is so dang hot. I hope the Freedom 5k has a nice beer tent at the finish line, I will be needing one for sure.

Since I have been given a clear health bill, maybe I can have a beer this weekend. I believe we may be going to see The Hangover 2 tonight after a delicious steak stir fry dinner I just cooked up. The food smells amazing and now the house smells like it, it is making me so hungry even though I ate lunch only 2 hours ago. Other than the movie, I will more than likely be attending the Title Fight/Touche Amore concert tomorrow night at The Talent Farm. Another night of seeing my friends and hanging out with Kevin, the owner, again. I really look forward to that, this should be a fantastic concert based on what I have been told about these bands live. I may be shooting them as well and all the pictures will be posted up on my portfolio site Mikimoro Photography.

The pain in my knees has now subsided to coming and going throughout the day, it’s no longer a steady wave of pain immobilizing me. I have done a bit more research and it seems to be an MCL strain but is probably nothing more than a strain. So I have laid off exercise for the remainder of last week and will continue that this week, dependent on information from my doctor. I am glad, however, that the pain comes and goes because this makes it much more palatable. I have noticed that since I stopped taking my Meloxicam, my knees feel better much more quickly and now I am also able to take other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or Aleve. Yesterday, I noticed that once I popped a few naproxen sodium caplets and put an icing sleeve on my right knee, it felt great for about 6 or so hours and even after that, once the pain returned it was not as bad as before, it hurt every few steps rather than hurting if you merely looked at it. This leads me to believe that the Meloxicam was slowing the healing process as my knees would hurt exponentially once the drug wore off, almost to the point of making walking impossible. Whatever the role it plays, I will no longer be taking Meloxicam, its side effects (including a narcotic-esque withdrawal period) make me feel very uncomfortable. I am pretty sure that my doctor will not be pleased to know that.

In other news, this weekend was fantastic all pain aside. After a great night at the Fillmore in Miami seeing Girl Talk, we spent Friday doing as little as possible. It was very nice having a day off and getting to enjoy it. Most of Saturday was spent much the same way, except I ended up going to West Palm that night to see my friends Paris is Burning play some serious technical death metal. I also had the pleasure of seeing letlive., a very emotionally charged hardcore band that lays it all on the line every show. I have not seen a band perform that erratically and spastically in quite some time, it was quite a spectacle to take in. It is not something easily translatable into words, you will just have to see them when they come to your town. And if you have a chance, talk to the singer, Joshua, about the scene and music, what he has to say is amazing and needs to be heard by a wider audience. Overall, the night itself was fantastic, I got to see a lot of my friends and hang out. The downside being that on Sunday, my knees were wrecked again but that cleared up pretty easily.

Yesterday, we had a nice and lazy day again. Aside from eating breakfast and taking some clothes to Goodwill, the only thing we did was go to see documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, narrated by the impeccable Werner Herzog. My biggest complaints: the pointless use of 3D and the length. Other than 3D being the current fad and using that to pander to a wider audience, the actual use of 3D and stereoscopic filming served absolutely no purpose in the movie. How are you going to make rock art paintings which are completely one dimensional into a three dimensional representation? Hint: you cannot. 3D’s only use in the entire film was for fluff and superfluous use in making scientists appear separate from their backgrounds and giving depth to some of the cave shots. Using 4K or higher resolution would have benefited this movie much, much more than the pointless use of 3D. Besides the fluff use of 3D, I felt it was a bit long in the tooth at slightly over ninety minutes. A documentary this long is typical however, this was very sparse on information and drive around the sixty minute mark, it really felt thin after that until the last scene which has little relevance to the rest of the movie itself. I found the documentary itself truly interesting and very engaging for the most part but those gripes may prevent me from purchasing the DVD. If Herzog pumps up the resolution and drops the ropey and gimmicky 3D implementation, it would be worth it.

I’m not sure what is coming up this week besides visiting my doctor but I hope it is fun, I just miss exercising!

I went out for my first run in a few days yesterday, knowing that my knees were still bothering me a little, and was that a huge mistake. Today, I can barely walk again just like on Sunday. I broke the cardinal rule of barefoot running, especially for rookie runners: when your body says it hurts, STOP! Foolishly, I didn’t stop and I completed my 2.1 mile run under great duress and pain. Today has been walking hell. The funniest part of all of this, it’s only my knees that hurt and even then, a very specific part of my knees hurt.

It hurts here!

It hurts here!

The red line is an approximation of my “pain line”. It literally only hurts on a one to two inch plane laterally across my joint to the patella on both knees. Also, you can barely make out my orthoscopy scar from my knee surgery when I was 15. This area is where I have been hurting since Saturday when I was on my feet all day, I suspect that during the concert I may have overextended my knees to stress my ACL or bruise the bursae. While I’m not 100% sure of what’s hurting or what I may have injured, I hope my physician will offer some advice when I see him next week. All I know is that now, I am in some serious pain. Last night I iced down my knees for about 45 minutes but could not really feel a difference in the pain subsiding or not but I just applied IcyHot Gel about 30 or so minutes ago and I feel much better, I am actually walking (not hobbling) without wincing.

Now because of my rookie runner mistake, I’m going to sideline myself until after I see my doctor next week and see what he suggests and he takes me off this useless Meloxicam. I feel it offers no advantages over taking naproxen sodium or ibuprofen, except for the fact that I cannot take either of them or any other NSAID while on Meloxicam. This means that now while my knees are killing me in the middle of the day, I’m unable to take anything else to ease the pain due to possible strongly negative drug interactions; I just get to sit here and suffer unless I want to take minimal amounts of acetaminophen which probably will not help either.

In better news, I’m actually feeling great other than my knees. My body doesn’t hurt much any more after runs and my muscle soreness is lower even after cross training. I have not lost very much weight surprisingly but I’m feeling better. I have also noticed that I have started smoking much less than I was even a month ago, I am not sure if this is a contribution solely to my exercising or the fact that I fully switched over to hand-rolled smokes, thereby removing all the extra nastiness (cyanide, rat poison, carpet glue, etc) RJR and others feel is necessary to infuse tobacco with. Whatever the cause, I am happy to be smoking less and it feels like I am craving nicotine less and less. My nutrition has changed slightly too, I am eating leafy greens probably three or four times a week for one meal while leaving almost all bulky carbs like breads and cereals to breakfast. In a change to more naturalistic pre-run food intake, I started making my own chia fresca, the same drink from Born to Run. I cannot tell if it’s really making any difference besides being slimy when I drink it. Perhaps I am not letting it sit long enough, I usually wait 15 to 20 minutes before I down it, maybe I should wait 30 minutes or longer? My girlfriend does not like it, she just thinks it is like drinking slimy pond scum or something like that.

And such a blast! But I do have to say, I’m hurting, bad. My knees and right gastroc are totally shot from yesterday, I couldn’t even squeeze in a short run today. Hell, I was barely able to walk around Whole Foods tonight while picking up some dinner. Why? I spent Friday and Saturday at the Bringing It Back For The Kids Fest 2011 at Rocketown in Pompano Beach. Two days of hardcore and straightedge music, all tied together by amazing people. Many, many, many thanks go out to Alex and Cliff, without them none of this weekend would have been possible. I am indebted to each of them.

It was so awesome to see so many of my friends under one roof, all having a good time. Throughout nearly forty bands and countless mosh pits, there was a single fight that ended nearly as quickly as it began. Which is something quite amazing given the immeasurable amounts of pissed off and testosterone found at every turn. But this weekend helped to really highlight to people who while hardcore music, at its core, is about being pissed off, there’s more respect going around than anything else. Concerts like this are what keep me coming back to the hardcore scene, despite the fact that I barely listen to any hardcore at all these days, I’ve seen very few communities that are this tight and together especially down in South Florida. A lot of the time, it is all about two things and two things only: the music and no bullshit. I could not ask for a better scene to be involved in. I do hope that there is a Bringing It Back For The Kids Fest 2012, that would be unreal.

But I have to say that all the standing up and moving really rocked my body in a bad way. As much as I may not like it, I may have to finally retire my cowboy boots because I believe they are the source of much of my discomfort today. If I could find something that was flat-soled yet offered as much comfort and protection as my boots, I would be so happy. After the Meloxicam wore off around mid-afternoon, walking was a chore even though I was in flat sneakers. I hope to heal up fairly quickly, my fitness is already at sad levels without this injury. While I’ve done this many times — being on my feet for 8 or more hours a day in boots — it has never gotten to this point and that has me worried about my burgeoning running regiment. Perhaps the added weight of my camera bag was a contributing factor but I know I have to drop some weight that I do not carry around in a messenger bag. We will see what happens come Tuesday when I am supposed to run again.

None of that could take away from the awesomeness of today, it was my girlfriend’s birthday, making it the ninth or tenth one we’ve celebrated together. While I did not have anything in specific planned for today, it all worked out and we had a great time. Delicious food at our favorite vegetarian Indian restaurant, hours of game play at Dave & Buster’s, topped off by seeing the movie Bridesmaids (The Hangover for chicks and just as funny) and a delicious home cooked steak. I could not have asked for more so I do hope that I made her day just as much fun as I had. The saddest part is that the weekend is now over and we have to go to work tomorrow.

It should be a busy week as I have a lot of photo editing to do from the fest, along with shots from a photo shoot I did last week, and I have to get moving around again. I slept with the heating pad on my knees last night, I want to do it again tonight although I may just opt for Icy Hot wraps instead since they will stay in place throughout the night. Speaking of bed, it is getting late and I think I will get off to sleep now.

I love my Merrell Barefoot shoes

I love my Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove shoes

Today I took my first trail run in my minimalist running shoes, the Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves. Aside from my old wrestling shoes from high school, this is my first pair of zero-drop shoes and for the most part, they’re very comfortable. I’m still having some trouble lacing them up properly, I either get the ankle lacing a hair too tight or the mid-foot lacing too tight, I just cannot get that “perfect” lace-up yet. Anyway, enough about the shoes, I will be writing about those another time, this is about my run.

The run went a lot better than I could have expected. My run training now consists of the Couch to 5k plan; I’m on week 2 day 3 as I just started the plan itself this week. Prior to trying some trail running today, I was only running on the freshly repaved sidewalk across the street from where I live and it was, frankly, killing my calves. I was coming home with extremely worn out and my soleus muscles were absolutely blasted, making it an ordeal just to walk back. I do understand that part of this is from barefoot-style running and acclimatizing your calves to a new range of motion. But today, none of that happened at all. The only time my feet touched pavement were during my stretching, warm-up and cool down walk back home, the rest of my run was across a sub-1 mile stretch of grassy sand. My recovery tonight has been completely different from the previous few weeks, I have not spent most of the night trying to regain my energy and only my left soleus is tight at this time. My feet do not hurt, my quads and hamstrings do not hurt, and my lumbar feels great. In contrast, on Sunday’s run, I collapsed on the floor and fell asleep during my stretching — I also made the stupid choice to run in the middle of the day…in 90F+ heat. But overall, I have a very positive experience for my first minimalist shoe trail run and I will continue to train on my little trail.

I can now understand why barefoot runners, novice and experienced, strongly suggest integrating trail running into the routine, it’s a great experience. My minimalist shoes absorbed all the force they were supposed to while allowing me to literally feel everything but the blades of grass under my feet. I even felt this golf ball-sized limestone rock slam into my heel during a particularly up-and-down section of the trail; that kind of tactile feel was unbelievable. And fantastically enough, this trail run actually improved my time. According to my Garmin, I ran a hair under two miles and my average pace was nearly a full two minutes faster than my run yesterday which was the same cadence and mileage. Which I find to be very strange considering my quarter-mile splits are all slower than yesterday except for my first and fourth splits.

Splits from 12 May 2011 and 11 May 2011

Splits from 12 May 2011 and 11 May 2011

How can I digest that while I ran slower on six of eight splits (2-8)? I suppose if I toss out the first split since it is just a stretch and walk warm-up, I still cannot wrap my head around running faster on more technical terrain. For reference, splits 1 through 8 are the same distance, splits 9 through 11 on the 11th are from an extended cool-down walk, I was beat.

I certainly do not feel any faster and my form is still just as awful: plodding like I’m wearing concrete shoes rather than minimalist shoes. I know my first three run segments today felt great, I actually was running them faster than yesterday. However, this is going to take a little more of a break-in period as I am sore in a few other places than normal, such as my left gastroc and a spot right below my left knee. I would really love to attempt this stretch totally barefoot but I’m not sure if that is going to be possible just yet since I have not yet had enough time to fully analyze the trail for things like broken glass and dog poo. The former is the sole reason I do not run barefoot on the asphalt, I have seen too much of that around here lately.