Monday, May 31, 2010

Chiropractic Care - Week One

Back in January, the Frederick Triathlon Club speaker was Dr. Robert Staley of Family Chiropractic Center.  I was under the care of a chiropractor some time ago, but stopped going after my insurance stopped covering that doctor.  I decided to go and listen to Dr. Staley's presentation and evaluate if I thought I should pick up chiropractic care again.

Dr. Staley seemed knowledgeable about working with athletes and seemed to have a total body approach instead of a spine-only focus.  I decided that I would give chiropractic care a shot and scheduled an evaluation appointment.

At the evaluation, Dr. Staley asked about my history and completed a spinal exam.  I mentioned two concussions when I was younger, and two recent rear-end accidents along with occasional migraines which hinted towards the tightness in my neck.  I was given a prescription for x-rays and told to schedule another appointment once I had the films.

Three months later, once the running-centric part of my season was over, I finally scheduled a follow-up appointment and brought in my films.  The films showed a loss of curvature in my cervical spine (in fact, my cervical spine almost curves backwards), the misalignment of my spinous process between vertebrae (the spinous process should be stacked one on top of the other but instead mine are all over the place), and some change in some of the spinal spaces in my cervical spine.  And right on cue, I was also terribly stiff around my neck and shoulders and suffering almost daily migraines.  Ouch.

As of today I have been through four chiropractic adjustments.  I have noticed some temporary relief from my neck and shoulder stiffness and my daily migraines have eased (the weekend and day off today definitely helped).  After my adjustment on Thursday, Dr. Staley recommended how to correct my desk position at work to help ease the stress on my neck.  He's planning on addressing the top several things that I do the most (i.e. sit at a desk, sleep, commute in my car, workout, cook) to help with the care of my spine and body which should improve my long term prognosis of great health.

So far so good.  I'm still a bit skeptical about chiropractic care even though I experienced some results when I was last under care of a chiropractor.  He was using a ProAdjuster and spent no more than 5 minutes with me doing simply the adjustment; no concurrent lifestyle improvements like Dr. Staley is doing.  So, I'm keeping my mind open as I receive treatments.  The three-per-week treatments are certainly cramping my workout style, though.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Frederick Half Marathon Recap

It was 65 degrees F and 85% humidity the morning of the race...at 5:30a...still one hour before the race start.  I knew it was going to be a rough day since this was my hottest run yet.

I awoke at 5:00a and started getting myself ready.  I warmed up some basmati rice and grabbed some water to get things going.  My running clothes went on - white tank top (never run in before that day), Livestrong yellow shorts, pink socks, Saucony shoes, HRM, and Fuel Belt.  I grabbed my new white Under Armour visor and sunglasses as well.  I packed my gu's and bloks and headed to the start at 6:00a.

At 6:15a I had dropped off my bag at bag check, adjusted my gear, and was headed to the start line comfortable and ready to go.  Although headphones were not recommended, I wasn't running for prize money so I opted to keep them with me because that was how I had trained.  I typically kept the volume down when running on the roads anyway so I knew I'd be able to hear any directions from race officials and police officers.

And the gun!  It took me less than two minutes to get to the starting pad which I thought was reasonable given I was lined up for 11:00 pace.  I kept my eyes out for the 5:00 hour marathon pacers as that's about where I wanted to be for the first half of the race.  Unfortunately, for some reason I couldn't get off the tail of the 4:45 hour pacers.  I haven't marked my miles during training runs so I don't know how "bad" of a pacer I am, but my first five miles were 11:01, 10:47, 10:41, 10:45, and 11:17.  I felt all right those first miles but I knew I went out too fast and needed to slow up or else.

At mile 6.5 I knew there was a cheering section waiting for me.  Sure enough my group was there and I was happy to see them, although sad at the same time because I knew I still had half the race to go and was starting to feel a little uncomfortable.  I marked mile seven at 23:08.  What?!?  Then I figured out that I had missed mile six and was looking at a two mile time.  Whew!  Mile eight came in at 12:00 and that's when things started to fall apart.

My toes were burning and it wasn't just my usual blister spots; it was also underneath my big toes (as I found out after the race).  My knees were aching, my hips were sore, and I was carrying A LOT of tension in my neck and upper back that was radiating up to my head.  I decided that the adage "some times you have to go slow to go fast" came into play and I started to walk.  The pain eased in my feet and knees but my hips, particularly my hip flexors, hurt worse to walk.

Through mile twelve I alternated walking and running and turned in times of 13:32, 12:09, 13:07, and 14:22.  The sun popped out of the clouds for a bit during that time and I just wanted to stop, but I decided that I was too close to stop.  At least I was still moving.  Starting into mile thirteen, a face that I knew popped out of the crowd - one of my coworkers had come up to cheer me on with an awesome sign.  I hated for him to see the look on my face because I knew it said "pain", but it turned out that he was sick as a dog and probably didn't notice since his own face was crinkled up in sickness.  It helped egg me on to keep going.

Then I saw another familiar face a short while later, this time on his bike.  One of my local biking buddies had come out and I stopped for a moment to chat and regain my composure.  I was within a half mile of the finish and he gave me the last bit of encouragement I needed to make it to the end.  His signature over-the-top cheering helped get the crowd around him riled and I couldn't help but smile.

I made the final turn and headed up the final hill.  One final zig and I was in the fairgrounds.  The male portion of my cheering contingent quickly came into view as they were walking towards the finish line.  They yelled up to the ladies in front to grab the cameras as I passed by.  I rounded the final turn on the track and had the finish line in sight.  I heard foot steps behind me and decided that I was hitting the finish pad first, and I did.  I stopped the clock at 2:37:24; 13 minutes off my expected completion time.

I finished, albeit a little slower than I had hoped.  I guess I'll have to try again and see if I can run the whole thing next time.