The knife awaits?

So…the picture accompanying this post is from today…Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. For the first time since my September 6 emergency room visit and herniated disc diagnosis the following day, I gutted out the pain and numbness in my left leg (the back pain is minimal at this point) to get an easy 3.5-mile run in.

Why? Because today I saw the orthopedist again and this time he had the images from my recent MRI exam. Based on what he’s seeing, he thinks I may need a surgical procedure to fully address the pain/numbness in my leg. Sleeping is still an issue and it is still taking me hours to get going in the morning. As evidenced by my run today, there are times when I hardly feel anything. But it doesn’t last and by dinner time, I’m barely able to stand for more than a few minutes at a time. His thinking is that this isn’t getting better as fast as it should be.

I’m seeing a surgeon tomorrow to discuss my options. Surgery is one. The other is to continue physical therapy and get an injection into my spine to hopefully relieve the pressure on the nerve that is causing the pain in my leg.

This is problematic in so many ways. In addition to the Crest Best 10 Miler on October 7 and the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18, my family is going on a Disney cruise in early November. Now, I don’t know the details of any potential surgery, but a quick Google search shows varying degrees of recovery time for back surgeries. One said recovery time for resuming normal activity is 3 to 4 months (!!!) with a full recovery for sports, etc., being about a year (yikes)! However, another said that a procedure specifically addressing leg pain is minimally invasive and has a recovery time of 1 to 3 weeks (I’ll sign for that right now!).

So…this may be crazy, but I want to see if the surgeon will sign off on the following plan. Assuming he says I need the procedure and assuming it’s the minimally invasive one with a 1-to-3-week recovery time (and, yes, I plan on getting a second opinion), I want to see if this is an option:

  1. Try the injection immediately and continue physical therapy and hope it’s enough to get me through the 10-mile race on October 7;
  2. Schedule the surgery for just after October 7 anyway and, if the injection/therapy approach isn’t resolving my issues, get it done.

Again, assuming this is the procedure with a1-to-3-week recovery time, this would have me just about recovered in time for the cruise in early November and still give me some time for a extremely accelerated/condensed training cycle for the Philadelphia Marathon a couple of weeks later (I understand there’s a walking/running track on the cruise ship).

All I know is that this really stinks.

BK Bulletin – September 2018

So…what’s happened since the first edition of this newsletter went out last month? A lot…and nothing. I was in the hospital…that was something. Unfortunately, the reason for the hospital visit kept me from competing in the Hightstown Triathlon I was so looking forward to. And it’s led to a lot of doing nothing. Read on for the details… Continue reading “BK Bulletin – September 2018”

It’s official: The Hightstown Triathlon is a no-go

After spending the early hours of yesterday morning at the hospital in extreme pain and seeing an orthopedist today, it is now official…I won’t be able to compete in Sunday’s Hightstown Triathlon.

I have a herniated disc from the initial injury three weeks ago that I’ve mentioned here previously. But whatever I did to aggravate/worsen it Labor Day weekend has left me unable to do much of anything without experiencing a boatload of pain.

Still hoping to recover in time for the Crest Best 10 Miler on October 7, but my primary concern is being ready for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18.

Hightstown Triathlon looking doubtful for me

Well, this is disappointing, but unless a miracle happens in the next couple of days, I don’t see any way I can compete in this Sunday’s Hightstown Triathlon as planned.

I aggravated my back injury over the weekend and it has now led to severe sciatica. I’ve had to sleep (barely) in ridiculously uncomfortable positions the past three nights in order to limit the excruciating pain in my left leg. It has taken me hours in the morning just to get myself to the point where I can stand/walk. Even then, I can’t stay on my feet for more than a couple of minutes. Sitting/driving is torture. I’m a mess. 

I really don’t see how it’s going to be possible at this point, but I’m not going to rule anything completely out until Saturday. If I wake up that day and the pain is gone or somewhat manageable, I’ll give it a shot. I mean, I did this event with a nasty stomach virus one year and it showed in the results, but at least I did it and finished. With this…I can’t even make it to the start.

In short, this sucks.

Time Takes Over: 30th Anniversary Mix

Me at my keyboard rig around 1990. "Time Takes Over" features sounds from the Roland U-20 synth on the top tier of my Apex stand (over the Ensoniq ESQ-1 on which I have my right hand).
Me at my keyboard rig around 1990. “Time Takes Over” features sounds from the Roland U-20 synth on the top tier of my Apex stand (over the Ensoniq ESQ-1 on which I have my right hand).
“Time Takes Over” is the first complete song I ever wrote. I was 17 at the time and it was strangely inspired by a co-worker of mine at the time who was only a year older than me, but had the personality and outlook of Archie Bunker.

Anyway, we worked at what is now a long-gone Pizza Hut in Point Pleasant, N.J. It was summer 1988 — in between my junior and senior years of high school — and the older sister of one of my classmates got a summer job as a cook/server/hostess with us. I had known her brother for years and knew her a bit, and never would have imagined her wanting anything to do with my overtly racist, sexist co-worker. But they wound up hooking up that summer.

Of course, she went back to college in the fall and since our business dropped like a stone when the summer tourists left, that left a lot of downtime for my co-worker and I to talk. And, for the first time, he sounded human. He really did care for her.

Shortly after she returned to college, my co-worker went to visit her. He expressed to her how he wish they had more time together, and — this is what he told me — she said to him, “Well…time just takes over.” And, at that, she suggested to him they just stay friends.

So, that’s the story behind this song. And it’s weird that one of the most stoic people I have ever known opened up his heart to me and inspired what I think is a pretty emotional song.

Anyway, the following summer he hooked up with another summer Pizza Hut employee and wound up marrying her (even though my classmate’s sister also came back to work with us that summer…which was awkward). I’ve Googled the guy in the past — and just did before posting this — and it appears he’s living in central New Jersey and married to the woman he met at Pizza Hut in 1989. But I haven’t seen him since the early 90s…well, except for one time when I drove by him when he was a cop in a Jersey Shore town a few years later.

Regarding the song itself, most of the instrumentation you hear on this track is from a cassette of the original instrumental demo I recorded in October 1988 using sounds from my old Roland U-20 synthesizer. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I got around to recording the vocals, but by then the arrangement had changed a bit (so I spliced and rearranged this a bit to fit the finished version). I recently added the vocals, wind chimes/shaker track and augmented piano/bass parts to this version, so I would have a complete recording of the original version in time for the song’s 30th anniversary in October.

Now, obviously, this milestone means nothing to anyone but me. My music career went nowhere, and I’m not really a musician anymore except for when my friend Christian Beach* needs me to be one or when I’m inspired and motivated to compose/record something. But I’m still proud of this song. I’m not sure how many 17-year olds were writing songs like this in 1988, but it couldn’t have been many. I mean, at its base, it really is a bubble-gum song about young love that is ultimately unrequited. But it sounds and feels so much bigger than that.


BONUS CONTENT

*Speaking of Christian, during our time in a band together from 1989-91, we actually played “Time Takes Over” in one of our live shows. Here is video of that performance (from 1990?), which features my trying — and mostly failing — to sing with a terrible head cold.

And here is the most recent update of “Time Takes Over.” I recorded this version in 2016.

My Year in Running: 2017

Just wanted to end 2017 with a quick look back at my running achievements during the past year.

654315_254682350_XLargeMy most important running milestones in 2017, of course, were running in the first two marathons of my life — first, the New Jersey Marathon on April 30 and, then, the Philadelphia Marathon on November 19.

Although I was thrilled to finish my first 26.2-mile race, I was generally disappointed in my marathon debut at the Jersey Shore.

On top of that disappointment, I had to prepare for the 10-mile Broad Street Run the following weekend. Two days after the New Jersey Marathon, I went for a 5-mile workday run during lunch and began experiencing excruciating pain in my right knee at about mile 3. I stretched it out a bit and was able to continue, but it kept on happening during my runs that week.

I tried to doing some things to mitigate the knee issue (ice, stretching, massaging, etc.) and had to resign myself to the fact that I may — for the first time — be unable to finish a race.

But — wearing a knee brace not at all suited for running (because it was all I had at the time) — and fighting through some discomfort the final five miles, I wound up finishing the Broad Street Run in a personal-record 1:27:03.

After the Broad Street Run, I took a three-week break from running to get my knee right again. I would have taken more time off, but had to tune up for a 5K held at my alma mater, Rider University, each June to benefit women’s athletics. Even with my knee issues and the heat that day, I managed to complete that in a respectable 25:02.24.

The next race I did was one that I wasn’t sure I would do until about a month before the event, and that was the Hightstown (N.J.) Triathlon, a sprint-distance tri held each year not too far from where I live. Amazingly, even though I didn’t do any open-water swim training and squeezed in only two or three training rides on the bike, I still finished 76th overall in the event with a personal-best time of 1:21:21. Somehow, despite the 1/4-mile swim and 11.2-mile bike ride preceding it, I ran what was likely one of my top-10 5K times to set that PR with a time of 25:49 during the run portion.

At that point, I turned my attention to training for the Philadelphia Marathon, with the lone exception being one last short race — the WXPN Musicians On Call 5K in early October. Even though the course may have been short by a bit, I finished that race in 23:39.69 — and then got to stay for the ever-popular post-race 80s dance party!

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Crossing the finish line

Then it was back to the Philly Marathon. Sadly, I was only able to get in two really long-distance training runs — a 16-miler and an 18-miler — leading up to the race. But I had done a lot of pacing work on my shorter runs and felt ready to vindicate myself from the disappointing marathon debut in April. I just wanted to finish in less than five hours.

And despite wet, brisk conditions and ridiculous, swirling 40+ mph wind gusts, I managed to do just that, finishing in 4:51:22.

So that was my year in running. Oddly, except for the Hightstown Triathlon (the event I made a last-minute decision to do each of the last two years), I don’t have any events lined up yet for 2018. But I’ll be running somewhere. Just trying to figure out what races to do.

Happy New Year!

2017 Broad Street Run recap and time to rest

Well, exactly one week after my disappointing 5:14:25 finish in my first-ever marathon, the New Jersey Marathon, I lifted my spirits with a PR in my third Broad Street Run in four years on Sunday, May 7. Even that wasn’t easy, though.

During my training runs the week between the two races, I was experiencing pretty excruciating pain in my left knee that usually popped up around mile 3 or 4 of the run. That resulted in my having to walk or flat-out stop to stretch it out before continuing. On top of that, a persistent cold that I really haven’t been able to completely shake the past few weeks began to flare up again the Friday before the Broad Street Run.

Fortunately, I was able to fight off the cold, but all I could really do was rest and ice the knee…and hope I could get through the 10-mile run down Philadelphia’s Broad Street.

I knew I had to go better than an 8:59/mile pace to conquer the 1:30:00 mark, but I really didn’t know if I could maintain that with my knee in the shape it was in. Once again, around mile 4, I felt discomfort. But then I stumbled upon a temporary, in-race solution…by landing more on the back of my foot, it seemed to take stress off the knee. It was just a touch, but it was enough to relieve the pain enough to keep moving forward.

And I did…at a pace in the ballpark of 8:45/mile.

My Nike+ app was off by about two-tenths of a mile, but I did know that I started about 17 minutes after the elite runners started. So when I saw that the race clock said 1:18 and change at mile 7, I knew I just had to maintain my pace the final three miles to achieve my goal.

And I actually picked up the pace by a few seconds during the final three miles…finishing the 2017 Broad Street Run in a personal-best 1:27:03.

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However, I nearly couldn’t walk back to my car, which was parked nearly a mile away from the finish area. About a third of the way of the way there, my knee tightened up so badly, that it was a struggle just to step up a curb. Just as I was reaching my car, it nearly gave out completely and I almost fell.

What turned out to be fortuitous was that I struck up a conversation with a fellow runner in my starting corral. I mentioned how my knee had tightened up and was causing me pain after running the marathon the week before. He said that he suffered from something similar – IT bands. I read about iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome when I got home from the Broad Street Run, and it sounds exactly like what I have been experiencing so I’m going with that diagnosis.

And that means I’m going to take a break from running for a week or two and gradually work my way back into a routine. I have a 5K at my alma mater on June 10, but that’s it for organized races in my immediate future.

Hopefully, by then, my knee will be OK because I’m announcing it here — now — that I am officially registered for my second-ever marathon…the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 19, 2017. It’s a couple of weeks after the Trenton Half-Marathon, which will serve as a nice marathon training run.

I just need to get the disappointment of my first marathon out of my head.

If you want to join me in registering for the Philadelphia Marathon — or the Philadelphia Half Marathon, Liberty Bell Challenge or Independence Challenge, use the link below to register:

https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/Philadelphia/ThePhiladelphiaMarathon?raceRefCode=qoGqlrRk