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My back is injured again.

After a week of on-and-off back pain, I played soccer Thursday night. Turns out that was a dumb idea. Despite taking lots of breaks, and being pretty careful overall, I did some major damage and I’ve spent the last two days flat on my back — and probably have a few more horizontal days ahead of me.

I’ve decided I’m going to sit out the rest of this soccer season (3 or 4 games) and all of next season. That’ll give me four months away from the activity that is most aggravating to my back. My goal is to not return until I can run onto the field completely pain free.

I went to the doctor on Thursday (before the latest serious injury) to have my back evaluated. He basically said, “you need to stretch your hamstrings”. I’ve been hearing this advice for the past 10 years, and I’ve followed it at times, but it doesn’t seem to help. But, I’m going to try it again. I think my problem is that I’ve haven’t had all aspects of my fitness (weight, flexibility, core strength, conditioning) firing at the same time since, oh, 1996.

The past six months (since I hurt my back in August) have been pretty lame. (Pun! Sorry.) I hope things turn around soon.

Trip ‘n Dip

On my birthday I was challenged to take part in the annual “Trip ‘n Dip” Resolution Run, and so this morning Ruby, Kate and I headed down to Magnuson Park for a little run. It’s a flat 5k course with an optional detour into Lake Washington at the end.

I registered in the “Clydesdale” category since I currently weigh more than 200 pounds. Looking over last year’s results, it seemed possible for me to actually win my age group in the Clydesdale category. I just needed a simple strategy: if I saw anyone who appeared heavier than me, I needed to beat ’em.

The weather was great and my friend Michael and I ran the whole course together. (Kate and Ruby also took part, with Ruby in the stroller and our friend Sally running with them). My strategy kind of fell apart, though, for two reasons:

First of all, I ran pretty much as fast as I could. It’s not like I could have sprinted ahead whenever a fat guy lumbered into view. I ran about an 8:20 pace, which is close to the pace I kept for the half-marathon a few years ago (but for only a quarter of the distance), and I’m quite happy with my 26:50 time for the 5k course.

More importantly, though, I have no idea what “people who are heavier than me” look like. It’s really hard to get an objective view of oneself. Do I look fatter than that guy? It was hard to tell what general category of physical appearance I should slot myself into.

Fortunately, I don’t obsess about these things very much. I want to get in shape firstly to get rid of some nagging aches and pains; secondly to perform at a higher level in my physical pursuits; and thirdly (and least) because it’s nice to look good and feel good about my appearance.

Weekly Fitness Update

One week into my workout routine and I’ve gained 2 pounds. Oops. In my defense, we had back-to-back-to-back Christmas parties this past weekend.

My workout consists of 15 minutes of cardio, a round of weightlifting on the “express” fitness machines, and then 20 more minutes of cardio. I’m not crazy about the weightlifting, since using the machines tends to focus on individual muscles groups instead of giving me a more holistic workout, but they are handy for providing a controlled environment while I work through some of my injuries. I’ll be starting with a personal trainer soon, and that should shake things up a bit.
I wake up at 6am, catch the 6:20 bus, and I’m working out by 7am. The workout takes about an hour, and then I’m at work before 8:30. My plan is to spend 3 or 4 days at the gym, plus a run on the weekend, plus soccer when that picks up again in January.

Packing It Off

I’m officially about 20 pounds overweight.  There’s a couple of reasons behind it — a bit of a lazy summer leading to a back injury which really cut down on my exercise.  Then a new job which both cut down on my exercise time and put me in the midst of overly tempting food choices for lunch.  Then a groin injury which limited my exercise options again.

I’m now paying attention to losing my weight, but I having a hard time feeling comfortable in my body.  My pants are too tight and hunger doesn’t suit my personality.  The lack of exercise is leading to other assorted aches and pains, and generally just making me feel out of sorts.

I feel like things are slowly improving, but the start of any weight loss program is always a frustrating time.

Family of Champions

We (Kate, Ruby, and I) participated in the University District Street Scramble today, and we won!  Specifically, we won in the 90-minute family on-foot division.

The street scramble is a scavenger hunt where teams (or individuals) are given a map with various locations on it.  Each location is worth 10 to 50 points.  You choose which locations you think you can hit, and which route will be most efficient, and then off you go, on bike or foot.  Being late costs you 10 points per minute.  Oh, and the map has only major streets names marked on it.

We had a lot of fun, and we picked a good route which we finished in 89 minutes for 370 points.  Having Ruby was an advantage since she’s still young enough not to get in the way of making decisions, and without her we would have ended up third in the mixed division instead of first in the family division.  🙂

Getting in Shape

We took Ruby down to Kate’s new (currently unoccupied) office building to watch the fireworks last night.  Ruby enjoyed them — she stayed snuggled in her sling with her eyes open and just watched.  The noise didn’t bother her at all.

Upon returning to our car, we discovered that our car had been towed.  (Apparently, we’d parked illegally — although there were no signs to that effect, and we’re going to fight the ticket (and towing charges!)).  Anyway, thus began the mile and a half walk to the towing company’s lot.  I carried Ruby most of the way, and my arms didn’t get tired at all.  I could have carried her a lot further.

It’s nice to see that one of the expected benefits of parenthood — getting in shape — is starting to materialize.  I don’t know if “getting in shape” is a common expectation for new parents, but Ruby has really helped me hit my fitness goals.  It’s not just carrying her around for a few hours a day, or doing baby bench press.  Going for a run with Ruby is an important — nearly essential — part of our daily routine.  Ruby enjoys the ride (usually), and she gets to see trees and cars and sky for an hour, but most importantly it consumes an hour of what can be a daunting ten-hour day.  I’m surprised that there are stay-at-home parents who don’t have time for exercise.  It’s one of the easiest parts of my time with Ruby.