Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fear of puss!

(Google Images is interesting. When I googled puss, I mostly got pictures like these. When I realized I wanted pus, I got pictures so gross I didn’t want to look at them, much less post them. Which I guess is rather the point here.)

When I had my knee “done” (Mar. 6), the orthopædic surgeon said that I could swim all I liked until the stitches came out, and then I shouldn’t swim until the incisions fully healed. When my family doc pulled the stitches out (Mar. 16), she said I shouldn’t swim at all for two weeks. As I’ve posted below (here, here, and here), I’ve swum twice this week, and without benefit of bandages.

After I posted about it, monado called me, and pointed out that while an infection was very unlikely, its consequences would be terrible—so perhaps I should not swim for a few more days.

I took her advice. But at least I got out again for my one-mile walk-and-run loop, as I did two days ago. I had hoped that I might do a two-and-two, but as soon as I started running I knew that would be wrong. There wasn’t any pain, but my injured knee felt injured, so I limited it to the two-and-one thing, and I was, I think, fine. (As I type this, I’m in my hotel room, icing the knee prophylactically.)

Tomorrow is an off day as I fly home. I haven’t been upgraded, which I always find a disappointment. As I once read in the American Airlines in-flight magazine, frequent flyers live for their upgrades.

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I forgot to stretch!

I wondered why I felt a little uncomfortable this morning—I forgot to stretch!

Based on one of the best articles I’d ever read about being a better cyclist, I’ve taken to stretching every morning after my coffee and before breakfast. Nothing elaborate, just some eight or so basic stretches that really seem to help.

But today I forgot. Sigh.

By the way, in looking for a good image for this post, I found a French Web page devoted to stretching for the obese.

Not so waterproof on hairy legs

When I had my stitches removed, the doc reiterated that now I shouldn’t go swimming—for two weeks, i.e., until it was certain my sutures had healed. (Mind you, they looked healed to me!)

So before I went on this trip I bought a box of waterproof bandages (illustrated). I, er, forgot to put any on for my first swim, Tuesday. Yesterday, though, I put one over each suture—and they lasted, maybe, one length before they started flapping, and then two or three lengths before they just plain came off.

The problem is not the bandages themselves but the hairiness of my knee. The bandages don’t have enough purchase on my skin to stay on. It’s been a problem since my teens.

Not sure what I’m going to do today.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Splash! (IV)

(Found a new picture of the Doubletree’s pool, showing the furniture as it now is. Beyond the hedge to the left and in the background is Carson Street, a busy arterial that could also be called 217th Street. Beyond the hedge to the right is the hotel’s parking lot. To the right of the canopy is the hotel bar.)

Did as Coach Kelvin recommended, doing lengths of freestyle without breathing in the 12- or 13-yard pool, alternating with body rolls, usually doubles, sometimes single or triple.

The six or seven strokes of swimming without breathing were kind of interesting. It was fun how easy it was!

Oddly, I “felt” my knee more during the body rolls than during the freestyle.

As usual, I was alone in the water, but not as usual two women were lounging in the sunny end (near the canopy) carrying on a low conversation. It was sufficiently sunny that midway through the work-out (such as it was) I switched from my clear-lensed Aqua Sphere Kaimans to the mirrored pair.

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Splash! (III)

I forgot to mention … so I went “swimming” before I did my “run”. The swimming wasn’t really quote-mark-worthy, except that—unlike last April—that tiny pool is a real problem. In six short strokes I was at the end of the pool; I could never get my rhythm. I put this problem to Coach Kelvin, and this was his reply:

Short pool?

Try doing length totally under water in one breath. Rest to recovery at each end. Don't loose control when needing a breath. Be sure, if you decide to surface and breathe that you are (for sure) going to catch a breath.

Body core rolling is good. Single, double and 3x.

Work on the pull stroke for breaststroke (knees might not be ready for the breast stroke kick), us a dolphin kick.

Find another pool.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the nearby 24 Hour Ftiness centre does not have a pool; the nearest is in Long Beach; I’ll stick with the hotel pool, whatever its limitations.

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It’s been two weeks (15 days precisely) since my knee surgery. I’ve been taking it pretty easily—too easily, I think.

I think I should’ve been doing more upper-body exercises, and my core strength work-outs—but I was so afraid of hurting my knee—and maybe I just liked the idea of time off!—that I did almost nothing.

I’m going to pay for it over the next few weeks, I think. I’m chunkier, and of course less fit.

But no time like the Now to start catching up!

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Five a day!

One of the problems of business travel is that it’s easy to fall into bad, bad eating habits. This is particularly true at the Doubletree Hotel Carson Civic Plaza (sic) where I think they mean well, but where there’s not a lot of variety on the menu.

So I’ve been having rather a lot of bar-type sandwiches with fries and beer, high in fat but also low-ish in fibre, and without any freshness to it. This morning I resolved to address the breakfast buffet in a better manner: I had a small bowl of oatmeal, a bagel with cream cheese and jam—and a plate full of fruit and a whole banana. Not that felt better!

At lunch my colleague took me to an Italian restaurant in Torrance, and I had the pasta primavera, which was a nice choice. I executed my “food rules”, and it worked.


I am a runner!

Well, okay: I’m not as good-looking (or young!) as this guy; I’m not running in the fall somewhere (it’s March in the northern hemisphere); nor am I running so athletically.

But last night, about 5:45 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, in the City of Carson, County of Los Angeles, State of California, I “ran” pretty much exactly one mile on my reconstructed knee.

“Run” is a bit of an exaggeration: I’d walk two minutes, then run one. My knee never hurt, and afterwards I spent almost ninety minutes alternately heating and icing my knee. There was no swelling, then or now, 18 hours later.

I’m still pretty fit: but running-fit? Nah.

I wore my heart rate monitor, and during my little jogs my rate got up to 149 bpm!

During the run I could feel tightness in my leg above and below the knee. I wondered if this was from a year of having problems, and not running, because it wasn’t bad. And today I can “feel” my knee, but it’s nowhere near painful. If it’s okay this time tomorrow I may go out for a repeat.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007


Tuesday evening (March 13; I won’t remark on the number!) I had my first swimming lesson since my knee surgery.

I felt great. It wasn’t just the joy of working out; it was that my kicking felt so much better. My vertical kick, never that bad, was suddenly better. With better kicking (as any fan of Terry Laughlin’s Total Immersion technique knows) comes better body positioning which means better (or at least easier) swimming. (See the Wikipedia article on TI for a good summary of the criticisms of TI.)

About midway through our hour my knee began to hurt, and we switched to drills using a pullbuoy. But it was too late; after a week of wonderful recovery, my knee has been sore since. I took a couple of days off, and since then I’ve resumed light cycling. Yesterday I did another session of Coach Kelvin’s Triathlete Swim Training but only for half an hour. For one thing, trying to do stroke drills with a pullbuoy is (for me) nothing less than comical. I’ve also been babying the knee, spending hours each day alternating heat and cold.

I biked easily 40 minutes today (watching the last two stages of the 2004 Giro d’Italia on DVD). I think I’ll do an hour tomorrow, and then I fly to Los Angeles for a week of meetings with my client.

The week in Los Angeles I’ll be staying at the Doubletree Hotel Carson Civic Plaza (sic), whose pool I’ve described before. But an alternative to the Doubletree’s modest facilities is a brand-new 24 Hour Fitness facility about a mile from the hotel. The building looked great from the outside in January, but its home page doesn’t mention the pool I thought it had. Anyway, my plan is to swim a bit, pool-run a bit, walk a bit, and maybe even *gasp* run a bit. As with so much: We’ll see.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Back in the saddle …

First, an apology for using a cliché as my title; I couldn’t think of anything else.

Second, the pic is also just the best I could find. I’m not female, I don’t have long hair, and I was riding my old Trek 2200 (a diamond-frame road bike) on a Tacx Flow ergotrainer, but …

for the first time in six days, I worked out. And, to my pleasant surprise, my refurbished knee didn’t complain; indeed, it liked it!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Spring forward!

This morning I struggled awake, with many hypnopompic dreamlets. I glanced at my watch: 6:00. The local Starbucks opens at 6:30, so I thought there was no point in stirring now. (Our coffeemaker is in the shop, so the 800-m-distant Starbucks is our source of coffee now.) At 6:30 I suddenly realized: it’s 7:30!

I hadn’t forgotten about the earlier shift to Daylight Saving Time—I’d made sure my PDA and computer were properly patched. I’d just forgotten to reset my wristwatch!

The Starbucks staff were all clued in—no problems that morning.

Some folks (myself among them) wonder why Daylight Saving Time. My objection has always been the confusion of name and thing, and the multiplication of entities.

Some people have better arguments: Michael Downing wrote a reasonably well received book, Spring Forward, whose subtitle, The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, pretty much summarizes his point.

For this post I even discovered there’s an “organization” (not sure how organized) opposing Daylight Saving Time.


A funny thing happened to me on the way home …

No pic here. One problem with my Treo 700p is that it takes so many keypresses to bring up the camera; as you’ll see from this story, I just didn’t have time to capture it …

I was driving home from “La Bicicletta” with my newly overhauled Trek 2200 in the back, heading home in the Odyssey. I was eastbound on Davenport Road somewhere near Ossington Avenue as I approached a pedestrian cross-over (PXO).

As I approached the PXO, a large orange cat entered it. It looked either way and started to cross the street in front of me. Of course, I stopped. The westbound traffic also stopped, and the cat, always stying inside the double white lines of the PXO, crossed to the other side sedately, always looking—and then ran off!

As I drove east, the driver of a Wheel-Trans van rolled down her window and gave me the thumbs-up.

It certainly looked like the cat was using the PXO in the canonical fashion. Very odd.

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Ah, that feels better!

On Tuesday, March 6, I had my torn meniscus snipped. (The photo to the left is actually of a dog’s torn meniscus, but it looks an awful lot like mine!

It’s been almost twenty years since my last surgery, but I had same experience with the anæsthetic: one minute I’m awake, blinking at the bright lights, chatting with the staff, and the next thing I know I’m in a different room.

I had a prescription for codeine-based painkiller, but I haven’t used any yet, which is I guess a good sign, a very good sign. I kept the hospital dressing—chiefly a tightly wound tensor bandage—on for most of two days, and Thursday revealed the almost invisible “stab wound” at the top of the knee and the two stitched wounds on either side at the bottom. My knee is a bit stiff, doesn’t like being kept bent, but tolerates walking and even climbing stairs two at a time.

My take is that the surgeon did a very good job.

The next phase, though, is coming back to athletic life. I’ll ride lightly on my trainer today, watching the end of the 2004 Giro d’Italia on DVD. Tomorrow I’ll swim a bit and run in the pool a bit.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

A day, perhaps a weekend, off

As planned, monado & I took Andrea (pictured) to swim at the East York Community Centre, together with her father (my stepson).

As always, Andrea was incandescent; she loves being in the pool; and she’s very fit.

I just puddled around, did some widths, chatted very briefly with an injured runner doing pool-running, and hung with monado mostly. Still it can be a bit tiring.

And so I decided not to do lengths when the pool threw out the kids, and further decided that what my body was trying to tell me was that I needed a day, maybe two off—even though I’ll get very little work done after my surgery on Tuesday.

Last night I was in bed about 12 hours, sleeping most of that, so I’ve missed my morning window to do my long bike ride; might do something tonight.

Andrea wants to go the bike show this afternoon, and we have to take her back to other grandparents’ this afternoon.

After no fewer than twenty-three consecutive days working out—by far a lifetime record—this fifty-three-year-old body needs some time off.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Turn, turn, turn

Watched the Omloop Het Volk today on (According to Babel Fish, omloop means ‘turn’ in English; Het Volk is the name of the sponsoring newspaper, in English ‘The People’.)

It was a very exciting race, especially as Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas zoomed from the chase group to the leaders, overtook them, and rode away with the race, all in the last few hundred metres. (His official Web site is very Flash, literally, and seems to me very Italian.)

It’s also a tough race, with long and frequent sections of wet paving stones, and very steep grades (at one point, 16%). It would be hard to imagine covering it on my road bike with skinny tires, but the pros manage.

The most interesting thing, though, is how the Web will change people’s viewing habits. can offer live professional cyling at high data rates world wide for a small sum of money (and at low rates for free). I can watch near-TV-quality images on my computer anywhere I have a broadband connection, so I can follow the sport more than I ever could before.

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Friday, March 02, 2007


The pic is of a rather severe instance of last night’s storm, a couple of miles from where monado and I live. (I’ll confess I, er, borrowed this pic from The Toronto Star’s Web site, which I heartily recommend.) I woke at 3 a.m. today to discover that the power was off; monado reports it was still off at 9 a.m., and, according to the Star, our utility is not promising to have everyone back on line before Sunday.

But this was a swim-club morning. Should I go or not? At monado’s suggestion, I called my office, and the auto-attendant answered promptly; thus I knew that the power outage wasn’t city-wide. From our bathroom window you can see the upper floors of Nisbet Lodge, and its lights were on. So I decided that the Innes Centre was probably powered up, and I could, and should, go swimming.

It was pretty wicked. The car, and especially its windshield, was covered with ice, and I got stuck reversing out of our parking spot; fortunately I was able to rock the car out without having to rouse monado to help push. :-) The streets were quiet; yes, it was 6:45 a.m., but it felt like 2 a.m., not the beginning of rush hour.

Only three of the registered seven made it to class. (And, yes, the facility had power.) Thus we had even more of Coach Kelvin’s attention than we usually have. (He’s actually quite good at giving individual attention to seven or eight swimmers at one time.) One poor guy—the fittest of us, of course—was to do 14x100 on 2:00. I was only supposed to do nearly endless 50s on 15-second rest, alternating underswitching, overswitching, and freestyle.

Once again, I have to say that swimming three to five times a week has done wonders. I now, honest to G-d, have a freestyle. (I do not, however, have an “alternate” stroke. Kelvin had us do a few lengths of our “alternate”, and my breststroke was pathetic; that 85-year-old guy at Settlement House who does 20 minutes of breaststroke every day at glacial speed would rule me.)

Back to my freestyle, there’s still tons to work on: my breathing stroke, for instance; my catch; and, of course, my endurance—I can’t realistically do more than 50 yd consecutively. But I can work on these; I feel I now have a base to work on.

The weekend: Lots to do: two lengthy bike work-outs, a core strength work-out, and I hope and expect we’ll be swimming with Andrea (our granddaughter) tomorrow afternoon, after which I’ll do 1200 yd or so of drills. Should be fun.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007


A few weeks ago I bought an exercise ball so I could do my core strength work-outs at home. Today, seeing its sleek, Jupiter-sized blueness lurking in my living room, it reminded me of Rover, the creepy security device of The Prisoner’s Village. In the pic, Rover is shown about to catch a miscreant.

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Forza, Emanuele!

Did my bike work-out on the trainer, continuing to watch the DVD of the 2004 Giro d’Italia. I’ve not enjoyed the abridged Giro coverage as much as the four-hour-per-stage live coverage (as I noted a couple of days ago), but today I watched Emanuele Sella take his first win as a pro on the 11th stage (in Pantani’s hometown of Cesena), and it was exciting and inspiring. I couldn’t find any English-language sites on him, but you can visit his fan club here.

One amusing thing about watching a bike race while I work out on a trainer is that when the cyclists are doing tight corners I lean with them! Could be a bit scary, if I leaned too much!

The work-out was ok. Coach Steve asked me to “Cycle speed - 60" total with 2 x 10" tempo (4"R I)”. I did a very, very easy 15-min warm-up, then worked hard for 10 min, then did a 5-min rest interval (just so the times were even), did another 10 min hard, and a final 20 min easy.

The first interval was awful. My legs, particularly my thighs, were screaming. I wondered what Alison had done to me. And I couldn’t get my HR into the tempo territory of high 130s and low 140s. Indeed, I don’t think it ever went over 125. But the second interval was completely different—power over 200 W, HR well into the 140s, and my legs didn’t hurt.

I wondered if my warm-up was too easy.

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The Department of Redundancy Department (Time Machine Section)

Another post not about triathlon. What am I thinking?

I was reading Maclean’s (which used to call itself “Canada’s National Newsmagazine”) when I came across this sentence about Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States Attorney for Northern Illinois:

Nor has success diverted him from a vocation that he seems to treat as a calling.

This is careless (perhaps ignorant) wordsmithy: vocation is just a nice Latin word for calling.

(The article is not on line yet, though I expect it will be at some point, at Maclean’s site.)

A further irrelevancy, but Maclean’s is a weekly, and the issue in which I read the above is dated Mar. 12. I got it in my mailbox Feb. 28! That seems weird to me.

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