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the inciting incident

and I became whole again ’cause no one said there’d be times like these.

— Portugal. The Man.

One night in September of 2019, I went to sub in for a soccer game. I was feeling good. Fast, strong, smart, ready to play hard. I warmed up the normal way.

Got out on the pitch started the game feeling really good and loose. Playing right wing. Our defense was moving the ball really well laterally so I would be able to line up on the wing ready for any outlet passes like normal.

On a particular break out, I found my way behind the other team’s defenders so I yelled for the pass and it came my way. Got the pass in stride on the inside of my right foot right where I wanted it at midfield. It was a perfect pass. I only had their last defender to get around and it would be only me and the goalie with a great short side angle at the net.

As I got the pass, and began to go through how I was going to beat the last defender. He was pretty far on the outside so I could just cut inside and then get a clear shot at the net.

As I angled away from the side line and then found I have a clear site of the net, I took my last stride and planted my left foot to line up a strike at the goal. Just as I did that. A back checking defender ran straight through my left leg. POP!

My momentum carried me forward and I collapsed on the pitch. I knew I had done something bad, there was no way I was going to be getting up and playing. I had to be carried off the field. I sat there on ground and contemplated what had just happened. My knee was completely messed up.

Only a few months ago I had sprained my MCL, this one felt different immediately. I kept telling myself that it was the same, but no way. Something was really wrong. I crawled to where my team was on the sideline.

This is the inciting incident. Somehow I need to get through this, I don’t know how but I still have things to do. I got a marathon to run, I have kids to raise, I have sports to play and I’m not done being competitive. I need 10 more years. I need this.

Half Marathon

I’ll stop at nothing, I am the siren that sings you home, is that clear?

Tusk and Temper – Every Time I Die

I finally finished the half marathon distance after not being able to push myself beyond 10 miles several times.

Even on this day, July 12th I didn’t set out to do a 13 mile run (yes, I know it’s 13.1 miles). I set out to put some miles in. Somewhere in my mind I was fine if it were to go down but didn’t think it would because I kept crashing when I would get to 8 or 9 miles.

I didn’t decide to really commit to the full distance until I was at 9 miles. The weather was perfect, my mind was feeling good and I was like, “I already did 9, what is another 4 miles?” For those that have done this, that 4 miles are tough. The thought at 10 miles was two completely different thoughts, “It’s only 5K, that’s 27 minutes, no big deal” followed immediately by “I still have to do 3 more miles???”

So my route is out to Humboldt from my hood and then I do a bunch of laps around Humboldt and head over to the 606 trail and finish the “race” on the rubber path they have on the trail.

Overall, I went at a good pace for most of the run. Here are my observations as a first timer noob.

Going slow is key, going slower than you think you should is absolutely key. My brain can get the best of my physical capabilities all the time and controlling my brain was the most important part of keeping me on the right path.

Once settled in, which for me is around miles 4 through 9. For whatever reason on a slower paced run getting warmed up takes me about 4 miles to zone out and cruise for a while. This lasts until the first breaking point for me, which is right around 9 miles. I ask myself how much more I’m going to do. This is a long conversation and it goes back and forth. One part of me is saying I’ve done enough, the other part is saying “today is the day.”

Going with “today is the day” is kind of a commitment but it’s not set in stone yet, I think it took me to about mile 11 to say, “yep, no way I’m turning back now”

The funny thing I noticed with the longer distance run (mind you this is the longest I’ve ever run in my life, so this is long for me) is the inability to go into full on sprint mode. I told myself to pick the pace up a couple times and my legs just kept the same pace. Like my legs overruled my brain and kept the same pace. This was helpful because it would have sent my heart rate way too high and I don’t know if I would have been able to recover.

The last thing is the last half mile. I’ll tell you what, I let it go for the last half mile and went full sprint. It wasn’t one of those flailing sprints though, it was one of those I’m moving my feet with my quads and hamstrings, I’m bringing my knees up and pushing off with my back foot as hard as I can, then repeating that until you get up to speed. Once I got up to speed I pushed another button and started throwing my glutes into the mix. I started to feel like a train. If it weren’t for the proof in the data I would have said I felt like I was flying but in reality probably was going super slow.

Next up is increasing the miles by a couple every couple of weeks. The Chicago Marathon has been canceled so I will have to sign up for another marathon to do. I don’t know if I want to wait until next October to run my first marathon. Seems like a really long time.

We shall see…

June 2020 @ 100 Miles

Right before June started I joined a challenge to run 100 miles in the month of June. Tonight I finished that challenge. Roughly 6 days ahead of schedule.

Route that put the counter over 100 miles.

I’m the type of guy that will dwell on things for years and other things no dwelling at all. I’m not sure where I’m at on running 100 miles. I’m a combination of “so what” and “I’ve never run 10 miles in a month before, this is pretty good progress, five months after surgery.”

How does my knee feel?

It feels fine. I can tell all my muscles are still not there, the mass I have on my right leg compared to my left leg is still a lot different. But it’s growing every week. I’m feeling the strength returning and in some cases more strength than I had prior to surgery. As far as ACTUAL pain it’s mostly non-existent. I mean putting 100 miles on your body will take its toll. So both of my legs have different pain associated with the running. I would not characterize it as the damaging kind of pain.

Where the drill heads went into my bones, I really don’t feel anything. I have some nerve damage on my left tibia where the largest incision was, so that has a weird sensation. As far as the femur is concerned it the soreness is muscle soreness because the muscle is still growing there.

Should I have run 100 miles so soon after surgery?

I don’t know. Maybe not, or maybe?

A short tangentially related story.

I was on morphine and hydrocodone right after surgery, as far as pain killers are concerned they are great. They didn’t make feel good though. There are side affects that suck with those drugs, I won’t go into details. One of my friends told me I should try smoking pot or eating an edible instead of the pain killers. I thought that sounded silly. But I tried it. I took a 10mg edible and the pain subsided, I slept like a baby, woke up with no grogginess or anything that I would feel after a night being on the painkillers. There is an added benefit that I laughed my ass off at the stupidest of things for probably 2 hours. That was great.

So at my follow up appointment with my surgeon, he asked how my pain was. I told him that it was fine. He asked if I was still on the hydro and asked if I needed any more. I told him that I didn’t need any more and felt like I should mention to him what I did instead. He responded with, “that makes sense and I could see how that would be better on the side affects that you didn’t like with the painkillers.” He finished with, “what you should do is listen to your body, pay attention to the signals your body sends you and don’t ignore anything.”

So, should I have run 100 miles in June?

If you asked me, I’d say, “yes” If you asked my doctor he may respond differently, because he has to. Does that mean he’s right? Generally speaking I’m sure he is, but if I listen to my body then I should be fine. So far I don’t regret anything about what I’ve done this month.

I don’t know what my plan will be for July yet, this was a competition and competitions are what I like because it gives me something to aim for. It’s going to get hot in July and August, so I need to be prepared for that. Training will have to ramp up significantly in those months in preparation for the Chicago Marathon in October, which is still on.

Next steps are the half marathon distance, hopefully inside the month of June. We shall see…

June 7th

Second 10 mile run in the books.

I think this posting will be talking about the pain I am now experiencing after putting in 33 miles over the past week.

This week we really stepped up the activity level. There are a couple reasons. Firstly I need to get into shape if I’m going to be able to run a marathon toward the end of this year. Secondly I got involved in a June challenge to run 100 miles. I am in a heated battle with somebody on who can get to 100 miles first. I’m certain to lose but I’m not planning on losing badly, I plan to keep it as close as I possibly can.

Let’s be clear who I am battling, this person has run several marathons, knows how to manage her breathing, running, pace and anything else I haven’t learned yet. However because we are both quite the competitors in anything, there’s a lot on the line.

As a result I put a lot of miles on my body over the past week, namely my knee. I have roughed that thing up pretty good. But that’s not the only pain I’m experiencing, there are several different areas of pain that I want to describe, which I do after my run summary.

Ran another 10 miles today

My goal for this run was to just get into cruise mode and take it pretty slowly and get a little faster every mile. I wanted to keep my heart rate in the range of 140-160bpm (about 70%-80%). I kind of wanted to see what it felt like to just settle in and get the miles in.

My next goal is going to be a half marathon, even though that’s only 3.1 miles more than what I just ran, I feel like those extra miles will be a different psychological experience.

I typically run laps around Humboldt Park in Chicago which is about 1.7 miles around. This means I put in about 5 miles for a 10 mile run. I will have to add another 2 laps, this doesn’t sound like a lot but psychologically it’s annoying.

I’m trying to get to that “breaking” point where I’m feeling fine from an exertion perspective and my muscles are doing fine, but my mind starts to get annoyed. I did notice I got annoyed with my shirt today, so I had to take it off, it made me feel better and more free.

I also noticed the feeling of my shoes being tighter than I was remembering them being, so I’ll have to keep my thoughts on how that goes as we get closer to trying to do a half marathon in a week or so.

Overall the run was fine, I didn’t want to beat up my knee too much so I stopped at just over 10.5 miles and walked the rest of the way home. So hopefully if I have a rest day tomorrow and then get back on the streets on Tuesday I will feel pretty good physically and be ready for getting to the 13.1 miles on Saturday or Sunday. We shall see!

Description of my pain below…

Outside of my left foot

This is probably the largest source of pain for me right now, it hurts to walk on it. It hurts for the entire run. It comes in waves and feels like I have a tendon that is being stretched to the limits running from just after the heel up to right before my little toe. The area of most sensitivity is right near my heel, on the soft bit of tissue between the heel pad and where the bones of the toes start to push outward on the foot.

This pain is excruciating in the morning. When getting out of bed, the pain is almost unbearable, I feel like I’m going to fall because it makes me want to contort my foot in a weird way and puts me off balance.

Shin of my right leg

This is the second worse pain I’m dealing with, it feels like significant muscle fatigue. The pain starts about midway up my shin, right on the outside edge of my tibia and where the muscle nestles right in there. It feels like bruising pain. The bone hurts and so does the muscle. I can handle this pain and it usually goes away once I’m warmed up.

Lower calf on my right leg

The lower calf hurts a lot, I think this is just because I’m not in running shape. The pain goes most of the way up my calf until the real muscle mass starts. Again it goes away once I’m running but hurts during the day while just sitting or walking around.

Left knee

This is my surgical knee, so I’m expecting it to feel some pain. Most of the pain is on the top left portion of my knee, where the quad muscle starts to connect. This area was a bit swollen last night, so I rolled it out and it made it feel much better. I have all the stability I expect to have, but there are some times where it feels like I am putting a bit too much stress on it.

On the lower part of the knee where the largest incision was is the source of my other pain, not necessarily the bone or anything but the feeling sensation hasn’t completely come back yet, so it feels funky when I’m running.


Both of my butt cheeks are sore. That’s about it. I think it’s just over use.

June 6th

Last Saturday, I managed to get my first 10 mile run in.

How did it go?

It went well, I knew I was going to be running 10 miles when I left the house so it was good to have that psychologically in my mind because I knew I would need to manage my breathing.

The way I went about that is to force myself to only breathe through my nose for the first 6 miles at minimum. This way I could keep my heart rate under control and not push the pace unnecessarily.

There were a few observations, I made about the run. The first was that because I managed my breathing so closely during the early stage of the run, I found that turning it up still kept my breathing under control. Meaning I didn’t over extend even when I was picking up the pace.

Once I hit the 5 mile mark, I felt like I was just cruising. I didn’t think much about the distance for a while after that. I did count the laps that I did around the Humboldt Park loop but really didn’t think too much more about the distance or how much further I had to go.

In the runs I’ve done since then, the 5 mile warm up seems to be the thing. Once I get to 5 miles, I’m feeling pretty warmed up and can begin to settle in. What I’m hoping to do to build from there is to find the warm up at 5 miles, then for 10 more miles just be settled in. The next milestone is to get up to the 15 mile mark. Where I just tempo run for 15 total miles.

I have found my comfortable pace on a 10 mile run, which I believe should be around 8:15-8:25 per mile. My goal for the marathon at this point is to run it at 4 hours or less. If I can extend the 8:25/mile for the entire length of a marathon this should be possible.

I bought some new shoes that I have not done a 10 mile run on yet. I have done a 7.5 mile run as my longest one so far on them. I plan to take them for a 10 mile run tomorrow.

Sync Apple Activity/Workout to Nike+ Run Club (NRC)

I joined a challenge with my co-workers for the month of June. The challenge is being done through the Nike+ Run Club (NRC) app. I don’t really like using NRC to record my workouts or runs, I prefer to use the Apple Activity app for my workouts. The problem is there is no way to get the Apple workouts into NRC directly.

I didn’t know this prior to the NRC challenge being set up so I was running using Apple activity assuming that I could just sync them up like I do with Strava. This is not the case. I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to get my run into NRC.

I initially thought I could manually add the activity manually to NRC, you can do this but it will not have any metrics and it won’t sync with the challenge. I looked all over the internet and they only discussed how to get NRC activities into Strava or into some other service, never how to get them into NRC from some other app.

So how did I figure this thing out?

Simply put you need to get a couple more apps to make the journey from Apple activity to NRC. Here is a list of things you’ll need:

  1. From your iPhone install RunGap
  2. From your iPhone install Polar Flow
  3. You should already have Nike Run Club app installed on your phone.

What is RunGap?

Run gap is used to consolidate all your activities between all the different services you use. It is pretty cool because you can download and “share” your activities to other services which enables you to sync between services if you use a bunch of them or are forced to use another app in order to take part in a challenge with your friends on another service.

Why do I need Polar Flow?

You need Polar Flow because it is the one partner app that you will need to configure in your NRC app that can write to NRC with all the run/activity details that you need.

How do I actually do the sync from Apple Activity to NRC?

  1. Register for Polar Flow
  2. Once registered and in the app on your phone to to the More view
  3. Select General Settings
  4. In the Connect section Enable Nike+. This will bring up a login screen where you will enter your NRC username and password.
  5. Go to your RunGap iPhone app
  6. Go to Accounts & Settings
  7. Set up Health to import your activities as a source
  8. Set up Polar Flow to import your activities as a source and also as a destination
  9. Once both Health and Polar Flow are configured, go to Activities in the RunGap app
  10. Pull down refresh to get all your activities from the Health app
  11. Select the activity you want to get into NRC
  12. Press the ellipses menu in the top right
  13. Select Share
  14. Enable Polar Flow
  15. Press Share
  16. Once that is complete, go to your Nike Run Club app
  17. Go to your profile (press profile picture in top left)
  18. Select Settings
  19. Select Partners
  20. Select Polar
  21. If required enter your credentials
  22. Once that’s complete, you should see the activity you shared to Polar Flow in your NRC app

Seems like a lot of stupid steps, but unfortunately this seems to be the only way I have found to get Apple Activities into NRC.

Why not record your activity using NRC?

I don’t use it for two reasons. It has let me down multiple times on capturing metrics (e.g. my heart rate, pace, splits, etc) meaning none of that data was captured or synced to the activity and I rely on it. Second reason is I am a Strava user and it has a very seamless process for importing Apple Activities into the service. If I were to use the NRC app to record my workout I have to still have a middle man app (like RunGap) to get the activity into my health app and then into my Strava account.

May 3rd

I didn’t meet my goals for April.

I feel good though. I got on my bike for the first time in probably 4 years two times this weekend. One for 10 miles and another for 25 miles. It was awesome.

Obviously on the bike, there is pretty much zero impact on the knee so I can go as long as my muscles and lungs can take me. They were some good rides. I really enjoyed getting out and feeling the sun on my face.

I still don’t know how this world is going to turn out. But I’m going to keep trying to live. I can’t stop living and then end up dying from the disease without having done anything to enjoy myself at the end of it all.

I know that sounds really morbid.

I don’t know what everybody else thinks but to me it seems like something about living through things like this is built into people. Naturally a lot of people are getting outside even though it may be dangerous for their health. At some point dangerous for health is a relative term.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

It truly is a dangerous business going out your front door. But Frodo went out his front door. Frodo did his thing. At some point we have to do our thing. I’m not going to get all political or anything like that so I’ll leave it there. Because I do NOT want anybody to be hurt, I want people to be healthy.

I want them to be healthy more than I ever have. I find myself looking at people’s faces so much more these days just to acknowledge their humanity. To acknowledge that they are just as worried about things as everybody else is. I want to acknowledge the humanity in this situation. This is not something anybody wanted. We all want everything to get back to the way it was, but we all have anxiety on whether or not we will. We are worried that people we love, the things we enjoy doing, the baseball games, concerts, fun things are all threatened. This sucks.

This will pass, it will take time but it will pass. I for one, am looking forward to being near people again. Recognizing that while we are all different and there are problems in the world, we are all here doing the best we can with what we are given.

I know this has nothing to do with having ACL reconstruction but perhaps that coupled with an event like this really lets me have some perspective that I never thought I could have. Post surgery, I have a new lease on active life. Post pandemic I feel like I’m going to feel like I have a new lease on regular life. I don’t plan on wasting it.

Goals for April

So far I’ve been on three actual jogs.

The first one was on March 24th, did a distance of 2 miles at a pace of about 11:25. So it was an easy jog. I didn’t really try anything at all because I wanted to get a feel for my knee.

When I would open my stride I could feel my calf stretch and when I’d land it would be testing the mobility limits that I’ve been working on overcoming with my stretches and other movements that I’m doing at home.

The second run was March 28th, I wanted to test myself this time. I felt pretty good the day after the first jog so I decided I would see if I could put some distance in. This run was 5.15 miles at a pace of 9:20. I was feeling really good most of the run. Of course some of the feeling in my leg has not come all the way back so I made sure to be careful on ground that was uneven at all because that’s where I feel like I could re-injure myself since I don’t have all my strength back.

I took some time off between that run and the third one because I wanted to let my body tell me exactly what happened on the 5 mile run. I kept exercising and stretching at home. There was some pain for a couple days after but it was all muscle soreness, especially in my calf.

The third run was April 11th. This run was to see if I could just use the same running muscles I remember using and see if there was strength in them through the exercises and recovery. I did 3.73 miles at a pace of 9:34. I took it easy but added an acceleration to the last 1/8th mile. This was to see if I had some quad and hamstring strength that I’ve prided myself on for all of my active life. Previously it was my acceleration that produced all the power I found and enjoyed. I feared that would be completely gone after this surgery and I would never have any explosive strength at all.

I felt like I could ramp up really well and my legs were performing. This is all good stuff.

So my goal for April is to put in consistent 3-4 mile runs every few days, focusing on some acceleration and then recovery periods within the run. I’d also like to see if I could pace myself to put in an 8 minute mile then follow it up with a 9 minute mile then alternate and see how I feel after changing pace and the like during the run.

My goal if I get to the marathon is that I can plan out which miles I actually want to use energy. I don’t want to blow it all in the early miles and I don’t want to sit back and only try to use it for the final sprint. I really don’t want to have sprints in there, but rather acceleration periods followed by “rest” miles that I can sit there and stride without thinking too much.

We’ll see how it goes…

Getting out of the comfort zone.

Today was the first day at PT where I actually felt like I was “working out” as compared to being rehabilitated. The therapists are trying to see where my breaking point is so they are having me do things outside of the comfort zone. I finally got out of my comfort zone today.

Granted the comfort zone boundary is having a rubber band around my ankles and walking back and forth for about 30 feet. My legs and butt were on fire during this part of the work out. I had to pause a couple times to rest them for a few seconds because it was almost too much to handle.

I really enjoyed this. So I’ve said that I’m waiting for the setback and maybe that’s the setback. Maybe the setback is that I have to take my time, I gotta do the things in a particular order before I’m going to be able to feel like myself again.

I still can’t wait to be able to jog and then to run, I’m so excited I almost can’t contain myself.

January 28, 2020 (day of surgery)

Once a day I rise, once a day I fall asleep with you

–Mac Miller.

Arrived at the surgery center at 6am. I came by myself because I have kids that need to be taken care of. The car ride over here was interesting. Dark outside, going to get cut open.

This is literally the only time I have felt any sort of emotion over this whole thing. I have none of my people here with me. Now, this is not major surgery. I’m just scared of being out of control. I’m scared of being knocked out and never waking up. I’m scared that not waking up means I haven’t done what I am supposed to do. I’m scared that I haven’t said everything I want to say. Interesting perspective.

This makes me think, people don’t want to be alone. Nobody wants to be alone. I’ll go home and life will go on. I will return to normal (hopefully) and all this emotion and fear will be nothing.

All I can say is that when something is taken away from you that you didn’t want taken away, you invariably think about how much you miss that thing. This can be anything, the use of my knee has been that since I got hurt. I want my functioning knee back so therefore it’s worth this small risk to get it figured out and give me the best shot at getting back to where I need to be.

I need to figure out if I’m going to be able to run this marathon and this will be the first step toward that. So here we go..

January 26, 2020 (t-2 days)

I’m getting my ACL on my left knee rebuilt on Tuesday the 28th of January. I’m excited to get home. The only anxiety I have is around making sure I don’t push it too hard early. I am a little nervous about the pain that I may have after the surgery but I guess it can’t be any worse than the pain I have already experienced by tearing my ACL.

This brings me to my emotions and feelings. Somebody else caused this injury. It was a reckless play done by a competitor of mine. It took me out and has sidelined me for a year. 

I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt me but this has really sucked. It’s thrown me into a bit of a depressive state because I’ve been unable to do anything very active since September of 2019. I won’t be back on the ice or on the soccer pitch until September of 2020.

I don’t know what its lasting effect will be on my psyche or how I play either hockey or soccer but I can’t imagine I’ll be as aggressive as I previously was right away.

Shit happens and at least I got injured doing something fun. Other people tear their ACL getting off a ladder. 

I really want to be in a position to run the marathon this October. I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do it but I’m gonna try. So this is going to document my journey to the starting line or to the decision to skip it for this year. I will still do everything as if I’m still in but with guidance from my doctors, my body and my mind I will figure it out when the time comes.

I just want the surgery done and out of the way so I can get on the road to recovery and winning again.