Since this was going to be an Olympic year in Rio, I decided to recommit to my personal goal of running (jogging) a 5K in August.
But, let me begin at the beginning:
I have had some trouble with my back on/off starting about 1975, when I was a mere lad of 44. In May 2005, I slipped and fell hard on my back in our condo. No one to sue and things got worse from there.
At about the same time, I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage between the toes and the knee). This manifested itself with poor balance and cold extremities. No cure and it will probably get worse I was told.
September 2008: I had decompression surgery on my back (L4/5). Unfortunately, it got worse.
2009-13: Pain management kept me going pretty well ameliorating the severe right leg pain with various epidurals and other shots.
June 2013: None of the shots or radio frequency to burn the nerve ends worked anymore.
January 2014: After visiting four surgeons and hearing four different ways they each felt they could resolve my problem, I decided on using Dr. Humility (real name, Bae), who did fusion surgery to separate the disc from the nerve (L4/5). Surgery was 100% successful. Pain all gone! Recovering from the surgery, however, was quite difficult.
Tried physical therapy (which is a torture of patience) and working out on my own at the gym. I walked painfully slow like a drunken penguin.
Both before and after surgery, I had occasion to have a few conversations with Julie Wilhoit (MA in exercise physiology and 20-year basketball coach). She was one of the trainers at the gym and she was friendly and encouraging.
November 2014: I decided I needed more help. Started training with Julie two times a week. I weighed 216 pounds and told her my goals:
- Walk better, longer
- Increase stamina
- Jog a 5K under 16 minutes/mile
- Get more fit
- Lose some weight
Doing pretty well over the next six months on all counts until a day before a trip to the Canadian Maritimes.
June 2015: I accidentally fell in the gym. Broke my right ankle and tore two tendons chasing a ball I should have caught.
August 2015: Got the big boot off my right leg and blew out my left knee (arthritis mostly).
October 2015: Right after coming back from Upper Amazon (outstanding trip), got pneumonia (slight) and a strange rash (turned out to be a bug bite).
November 2015: Infected toe and trouble with orthotics
January 2016: Returned from a cruise through the Panama Canal back to L.A. with a terrible pain on my left side. Turned out to be “12th Rib Syndrome.” No one ever heard of it! A rib poking into my side right above the hip causing inflammation. Pain management doctor did his magic needle routine and it slowly left the premises.
Tried to keep up the gym and training between all the setbacks.
April 2016: Developed bursitis in my right shoulder area. Had to cut back on upper body training.
It’s been a rocky road with obstacles every two months, but being a bit stubborn I recommitted to my goal of jogging a 5K in August and to do that I set up the following schedule:
Sunday, Tuesday (with trainer Julie) and Friday – mobility, strength and cardio
Monday, Thursday (with trainer Julie) and Saturday – jog for time or distance
During this time we had advice from track coach Tommy and Physical Therapist Sung.
By the end of May, I was 206 pounds and jogging up to two miles; but then the two-month curse reappeared. During the first three weeks of June, I had two episodes of vertigo and although I’ve had the V occasionally over the years, these bouts seemed to leave some after affects; low energy—back ache—lifeless legs—and all that got worse on our trip to Amsterdam and Iceland in early July.
In the middle of June, at the end of the vertigo, it was clear, even to me, that trying to do a 5K in August, or at any time, was not going to happen.
So, here we are in August and watching the Rio Olympics has been a bit trying because of having to give up my personal Olympic goal. Oh well, so much for goals that become beyond reach.
Truth be told, my jogging was kind of terrible and was causing undue strain. My times were nowhere near the goal I set and my posture was really bad.
I’ve learned I can’t jog a 5K and probably can’t travel again the way I used to—no more land tours and no more cruises that start with an overnight plane ride.
Back to Hawaii, that can’t be too bad. I just never thought about what age 85 would be like. Isn’t life interesting!