HealthNet screws us again


tl;dr: HeathNet sucks ass.

Long version:

So, Kris has had poison ivy going on ten days now. He's been miserable in more ways that I can think with his swatch of infected area, now ranging in the size of 10" long by about 4" wide, much of it raised, bumping, oozing and inflamed. After a week of calamine lotion, cold compresses and increasingly ineffective benadryl, Kris finally took my suggestion (my increasingly insistent suggestion, because we all know how stubborn boys can be) and called his dad for help.

My quest for a 6:30 mile


You can't cram for fitness. No, but you can set a new goal for yourself.

I ran track in junior high school, high school and college. I started running in junior high because that was the rule in our house: sports or a job. I didn't particularly like it, I wasn't very good at it, and I didn't exactly have the best experience with it. Yet, I ran because I was supposed to.

Did I mention I wasn't very good at it?


So, the way that distance runners are trained to run faster when I was running was to have them run speed workouts in addition to distance workouts. The theory being the distance running gives the runners an aerobic "base" and the speed workouts make them faster.

Tape knowledge


I went to physical therapy today for my knee. I'm pretty sure that the insurance company isn't very happy with my sudden massive health failure with so many parts of my body. I figure, I've been saving it up for a while, finally decided to do something about it, and the POINT of insurance is to protect against bad outcomes with risks. Of course, medical insurance companies are actually collective bargaining middle men and not really designed to prevent financial ruin in case of catastrophic medical events, but hey, best to get something from the money the company throws at the insurance company.

That, and I'd rather pay a small amount in preventative health care. If I can't run or walk, most exercises are out for me. I'd like to be able to walk and run, really.

So, I've been going for a while now, with two weeks left in my prescription. The current theory, for which I'm in physical therapy, is that my knee cap doesn't track properly, too far away from the joint on the inside edge of my leg. The problem with this theory, I will comment, is that BOTH knees have the bad tracking, according to the x-rays, yet only one knee is having problems. The other issue I have with this theory is that it doesn't explain the locking I experience when something in my knee shifts and I'm suddenly unable to bend it.

Of course, the doctor knows all of this, and suggested physical therapy as a less invasive potential solution. I don't believe it's working, but hey, my legs are getting stronger. Stronger legs can't be a bad thing.

Despite all of this, today I learned how to tape my knee to bring my knee cap "back in line." I've had it taped before, without pain but with discomfort. I am, at this point, unclear if my new knowledge is both useful and good.


Skinny pants!


On a whim this morning, while looking for a pair of clean pants to wear to work, having not been home long enough in the last week and a half to even THINK about laundry, much less DO the laundry, I pulled out a pair of my skinny pants (not jeans, since I stopped wearing jeans about six years ago when I had the freaky, all over, hyper-allergic reaction and couldn't stand them any more), and put them on.

To my shock, they fit.

No, not the "hey, look, I can still zip of the zipper if I pull in my gut and hold my breath and pray I don't rip the seam when I bend over" type of fit.

Rather, they fit in the "hey, look, there's no bunching, no grabbing, no identation or bulge over the top of my waist because these pants fit perfectly" type of fit.

I haven't fit comformtably into this particular pair of pants since, since, since, well, ever. I actually bought them at the size I think I should be, not the size I actually am. Well, was.

But now they fit! YAY!

Not going easily is still going


Well, that didn't work out as I had intended. Of course, many things don't, so I don't know why I was surprised.

My doctor appointment this morning was supposed to be a go in, have my foot cut open, clean out my foot, sew back up my foot, and I leave sort of ordeal, culminating in my hobbling for a day or two.

Instead, the doctor commented that, despite my attempt to cut out the wart, surgery really is the last option for warts, not the first.

What else did I learn?

Warts don't last 20 years, as the one on the bottom of my foot has. They tend to last months, maybe a year, but the body will reject the wart, which is caused by a virus. Since the wart exists in the skin, the continuous sloughing of skin will usually force the wart out of the body, through natural growth.

A wart that lasted 20 years? Yeah, it's probably not a wart, the doctor told me, but rather a collection of blood vessels that well, essentially just become confused and ball up into a painful lump embedded in the skin. Or, maybe it's a ball of scar tissue from some dig attempts of mine, other than the one last week. Unfortunately, last week was my first attempt at hacking this particular wart, so no, it most likely wasn't scar tissue. Well, he asked, had I during my many years of shaving off the top of the wart, ever noticed any black dots in the wart? Nope, hadn't noticed that either. I really think this is just a wart.

But you know, in the back of my head, I couldn't help but wonder if the wart was something more, something more sinister, because I thought the growth next to my eye was a wart: it looks a lot like the knot of flesh at the bottom of my foot.

The doctor, however, spent a few minutes with a knife, cutting off the top layer of skin, and looking at the lump. It didn't hurt a bit, which sorta told me the lump wasn't a collection of blood vessels balled up into a painful mass. After those few minutes, he declared, nope, looks like a wart, though twenty years? Wow, that's pretty much unheard of. Twenty years?

Yes, twenty years. Look at my chart. It's not that unreasonable to know that you've had a wart since your parent's divorce when you lived in another state, and hey that was twenty years ago, so just move on and accept that yes, this is a freaking twenty year old wart already.


Assuming it's a wart.

So, the doctor offered these steps:

1. Take a lot of vitamin A and zinc to help my immune system. The A will help the skin turn over, and the zinc will just boost the immune system, as if I had a cold.

2. Hold still while this magical blistering potion is dabbed on the wart. The skin will roil, boil, toil and trouble, hopefully ejecting the wart at maximum velocity off of my foot.

3. Keep the band-aid on over the blistering magic potion, until at least tomorrow, minimum four hours if I can't stand it any longer.

I can walk or run or do whatever I want, within my own pain tolerances. Want to go for a run? Have at it.

This guy doesn't exactly understand my pain tolerances very well, was my initial thought.

My current thought, though?


It's a throbbing, knife like pain on the bottom of my foot. Or rather, it's like a magical blister pulsing on the bottom of my foot, just throbbing, throbbing, throbbing, telling me, here I am! Here I am! Yo! Remember me! I'm not going easily.


Not going easily is still going.

Stupid twenty year old wart.

I am dumb


I can't believe I just did that.

Yes, not once, but twice, the guides told us, even though you see us going without shoes on, you need to wear shoes all the time in camp. Yes, all the time. There are rocks around here.

Rocks. Right. The ones I like so much.

The ones I just stepped on barefoot and opened a gash in my right foot about 8mm wide and over 1mm deep. It's right below the scar from the bottle I stepped on when I was 11 and opened up my foot then. It's in a horrible place, as any bandage I put there isn't going to stay.

I am so dumb.

Over before it began


You know, I've had my share of injuries over the last decade and a half of playing ultimate. I've rolled my ankles more times than I can count (and enough times that I don't donate my crutches, even months after I've healed). I've had discs thrown at my face. I've been crushed by male players, and broken my ribs under some. I've had my knees crushed, my hands kicked, my feet stomped on, my shoulder broken, my back seize.

This one, however takes the cake.

Early in this season (you recall, the season I "took off" by becoming a practice player so that I could concentrate on my confidence, my skills, my fitness and my health), I started having problems with my left achilles heel. I didn't think much of it, to be honest, having had pains with one or the other achilles tendon off and on for the last few years.

Lisa purchased an ankle stretching aid for me four or so years ago. It was one that Ben thought was dumb, given that it was only a piece of nominally unneeded, shaped plastic, he thought. "Just use the wall to stretch your achilles!" he'd say, but I loved it. I used it regularly that season, and ended the season with some other bizarre injury.

You know, I think it's to the point that people I've known for years will meet me on the sidelines and ask, "So, what is it this time?" with the understatement of, "why didn't you retire when it was still fun?" I can't say I'd think differently for anyone else.

So, this season, I've been struggling with my achilles. I figured the problem was with my shoes. When I originally purchased the style of cleats I wear now, the heel cup was so high that it pressed against my achilles tendon and caused some horrible pain. I figured out that issue fairly quickly, and cut a V into my cleats, removing the achilles hot spot. I do that with all of my cleats now, so I knew that wasn't my current problem.

After a few practices having the pain in my achilles, I started putting topical analgesic on my achilles, and kept playing. Clear case of "ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away." I mean, haven't all the other problems eventually gone away? Ribs heal, bruises heal, ankles heal, it all heals, just give it time, why not this one, too?

I gave up last week, and decided to have it looked at. I described the problem to my doctor. A few pushes here, a few prods there, and I was diagnosed with a crush injury to the ligaments and tendons around my achilles. "So the decision to continue playing on it was probably bad, eh?" I asked. "You could say that."

Since the problem is recurring, over many years actually, the doctor suggested I consider different shoes (since the thought of stopping playing ultimate wasn't even suggested, even by the doc). Originally, he told me to lay off running for three or so days, and start again after that. That was last week. When I couldn't walk at all the morning after this Tuesday's track workout, he told me that all running was out.

So, here's my recovery process, what I'm supposed to do to heal my achilles, given that ligament healing takes longer than muscle healing and this is going to take a while:

1. Stop running. Stop sprinting. Stop jumping. Stop all ankle impact exercises.

2. Keep the cool looking kinesio tape on as long as I can (wondering what kinesio taping is all about?), probably three days.

3. Heat my achilles for 30 minutes every 2 hours. That's a lot of heating.

4. Walk. Swim. Exercise in ways that not only don't hurt, but also don't aggravate my achilles.

5. Lots of vitamin C.

6. Wear sandals.

7. And stretch, as long as it doesn't hurt and doesn't aggravate the injury. Any discomfort at all and I'm supposed to stop.

That, and in 3-4 weeks, and I can try running again.

Three to four weeks.

THREE to FOUR weeks.

That's 21 to 28 days from now.

No running.

No, this isn't going to be hard, why do you ask?

I've been trying these last few months to go with the flow of life. Instead of forcing things to be the way I want them to be, I've been trying to accept things for what they are, to make things as good as I can given the way things are outside my control.

For the record, I need to say I've been trying this without much success. This injury is an example of how I just couldn't accept that I was done for the season, this time in June. I didn't want to believe it, I refused to accept reality, and managed to make my injury even worse.

And now I have to accept it, because I can't walk from my bed to my desk in the morning to get to work. I struggle to the bathroom in the middle of the night, knowing that any step in going to wake me up fully with a rocket of pain up my leg. I need a long time to get going after sitting for any time greater than fifteen minutes, as my ankle stiffens up so quickly.

Sandals. Like my feet aren't already cold enough.

Going to be more sore tonight


In continuing with the pain of movement from yesterday, I went up to Velocity Sports at lunch today for another workout. If I keep this up, those extra 20 pounds my knees are complaining about should be history in about 124 days, give or take 2 days Gee, and only 21 days to make a habit. Joy.

Kris didn't go today, something about "work" and "projects" and "sleep." In reality, I think he wanted to mutter "world" and "warcraft," but stopped when he saw the look in my eye. Who needs daylight to work? That's what evenings and nights are for.

The workout was as always, a long warmup followed by a workout. This particular instructor is a big fan of the 3 rounds of 5 exercise stations, each station for 60 seconds, 45 seconds and 30 seconds for the first, second and third rounds respectively. Today's stations were:

Squat jump with weighted ball
Pushups with one arm cross stand
75% running on the track
V ups
Supine row

The squat jumps were with a medicine ball: I used the eight pounder, having learned my lesson last week with the ten pounder. From a squat position, with the ball resting on the floor, held between both hands, stand quickly, moving from a half squat position into a jump, lifting the ball overhead in the jump. Land SOFTLY, and return to a squat position.

Pushups with one arm cross stand started with a normal pushup, but from the top of the pushup position, rotate the torso 90°, lifting one arm up to the ceiling, and looking up at that hand. Basically, in to a cross position. Hold for a count of two, then return to the pushup position, then lower back to the floor. Repeat, rotating the other direction.

Supine row was done with a barbell on the rack about a yard off the ground. Lying underneath the bar, reach up and grab the bar. Then, keeping the body straight, in a sort of reverse pushup, pull the chest up to the bar. I managed maybe three in the first round, before the instructor suggested I bend my legs, in order to maintain good upper body form. Made it much easier.

With the progression of the three rounds, I did progressively better, as I figured out what I was supposed to be doing, and how to do it. I managed in the second and third rounds to keep the two guys in my pod from passing me in the 75% runs by actually running at my 75% effort level, instead of just running with no focus. I think one of the guys was a bit annoyed that he couldn't pass me. Felt good to annoy him.

I also managed to increase my supine rows from 8 to 10 by the third set, which isn't bad, as I had half the time to complete that number in the last set, when compared to the first set.

So, I did okay in the workout. The warmups were more interesting to me. They're usually a workout in and of themselves. This particular instructor's workouts always seem hurried, like he has so much he wants to get in that he rushes everyone. I felt the same way last week, too. He doesn't wait for the slower people, to the detriment of their warmups. Like my warmup.

However, today, he pulled out the ladder, so I lined up first in line when he moved to it. No way was I going to be behind someone who slowed me up on these things. I hadn't forgotten how much I really like warming up with ladders, and by golly was I going to be first!

And, by golly, was I happy I was. Most of the class (read: all but one other person besides me) were inexperienced on the ladders, expressing beliefs that the instructor was making up the ladder drills to do. He wasn't. I recognized all of them, but one. I also surprised the heck out of him, when I followed him through the ladder, as quick as he had been, with fluid motion that clearly indicated I had done ladder work before. I even accelerated a few steps after the end of the ladder, broke down my run, and turned back to run back to the starting line.

Only to wait for the other 9 people in class to go through the line.

Probably good that I had to wait. I would have tired myself out too quickly without the rest.

What I found interesting about this particular part of the warmup was the lack of experience on the ladders that several seemingly athletic people in the group had. I would have expected them to have ladder experience. Or at least more coordination at learning new skills than they had.

What I also found interesting was the lack of speed one of the other women had. I expected to have difficulty keeping up with one of the athletic women in the class, during the 100% acceleration part of the warmup.

I didn't.

Maybe she doesn't have that first five steps quickness. Maybe she's injured.

Maybe, just maybe, I psyched myself out unnecessarily. AGAIN.

I don't know. I just do know that my 100%, inspired by a desire to keep up with her, was faster than her 100% for those two warmups.

And yeah, I'm being stupid. They were WARMUPS. Yeah, yeah.

After the workout, which was done by 10 until the hour, the instructor offered "mud ball," which is a game of passing a swiss ball (those are the 36" inflated exercise balls) among team members, without travelling or handoffs. Six catches makes the other team do six pullups.

Given my experience last week, I declined to play, opting to stretch out my right hamstring, which has been giving me problems when I don't stretch it out regularly. I was very glad, two minutes into the game, that I chose not to play.

The first incident had one classmate lunging too far to block a pass, and flying with the ball in front of him onto a wall mounted rack, puncturing the ball, and bouncing him back. Not five minutes later, two other classmates were jostling for the ball, and went over, landing on the wall, bouncing off, landing on the swiss ball and sliding off, all while missing the sharp corners of a jump box by maybe 2". Maybe.

During the game, I saw with some satisfaction, more of the frustration I had last week, of some people playing under certain expectation of play (a restart after a contested play, no travelling, more than 6" passes that look like handoffs, things that annoyed me last week). I commented to another classmate sitting out that the rules are so ill-defined, no one should be surprised at any contest. She said, yeah, we kinda make them up as we go along.

"Mud ball? Bah. We should call this Calvinball."

First practice


I went to my first Mischief practice for the season today. It was at Baylands and, well, Baylands kept up its reputation by having just the best, gusty winds. I headed over late because, well, uh, can I just say some stupid game distracted me at an inopportune moment and leave it at that? Yeah, stupid game. I hate it.

So, when I arrived, and saw a big "Park Closed, Private Event" sign, along with a long line of cars out of the park entrance, I was simutaneously annoyed (the park is NEVER closed for a private event, you can reserve the picnic areas, but not the whole park; the sign was deliberately misleading to keep "undesirables" out), and worried (I was late, and needed to get to practice, and I was late, and Andy doesn't like when people are late, and did I mention I was late? Yeah). So, I pulled a yooey (sound it out), parked across the street and ran.

Now, the nice thing about running over is that you're warmed up when you arrive at the fields. I'm reaching here, to find SOME good benefit of being late. On my run over, I decided that, regardless of what happened at this practice, I would forgive myself any errors. Having spent all of these years criticizing myself for bad plays during ultimate, instead of immediately trying to figure out what I should have done instead, visualizing the correct action, and moving onto what I needed to do next offensively or defensively, I've decided that this season I'll be more proactive in what I think, instead of destructive. I figure, what I've been doing hasn't worked, why not try this?

Out of breath, and in a hurry, I dropped my stuff, pulled of my pantaloones and hoodie, exchanged shoes, and dashed out to warm up with the team. I noted the people who crossed the street in front of me, but didn't hussle over, had to do a warmup lap to get their legs going before jumping into the warmups. I admit to being pleased at my hussle-double-duty.

As has been the trend over the last 2-3 seasons, the practice was well organized, thought out and well run. We started with a series of warm-up cuts in a box, then progressed to a review (for returning players, and an introduction for new players) of our pull plays. We then ran them for a while.

Next up was 8 pull, where each team receives the disc and has one chance to score, the defense having one chance to score on a turn. I think the end score was like 2-4-10 or something for dark / light / and neither scoring.

At this point, I was tired. Not exhausted, but definitely feeling my lack of fitness. The next drill, however, focused on isolation cutting, and whoo-boy, did I not realize I how tired I was until after this drill.

The drill consisted of a receiver and defender in a 8 m x 8 m box, and a thrower about 3 m outside the box with a defender on him. The receiver can cut and move anywhere in the box he wants. The thrower needs to throw to the receiver by the end of a stall count starting on 5. The defender and marker are, of course, trying to prevent the completion.

When partnered up with Adam Leventhal as my thrower, crap, I could do no wrong in my cutting. With Adam as the defender and my marking, he could do no wrong. I had problems throwing to Adam, completing only 2 of my five throws. My iso defense wasn't as strong as I would have liked, blocking only 2 (might have been 3) of the throws. I really liked receiving from Adam, though he did zing one throw in hard enough to leave a nasty bruise. Need to up the vitamin K, I think.

I really liked the drill, as it gave me a chance to throw, throw, throw, granted in somewhat artificial circumstances, but it was still a lot of throwing in tight situations. I'm going to see if I can convince some teammates to continue this drill again some evening this week. Steffi expressed interest, so only 2-4 more people would be needed.

We then played a game to seven. Dark, my team, was up 3-1, before going down 5-3 to light. We brought the score back to 5-6, but eventually lost 5-7. The game was really interesting, though I was remarkably exhausted. I can't believe (well, okay, yes, I can) just how out of ultimate-shape I'm in. It's awful. The extra 20 pounds around my hips are definitely announcing themselves on my knees. I ate a fabulous breakfast this morning (vegetable scramble with cheese and a large odwalla citrus c), so now is a great time to keep up the good eating. Maybe I can get rid of those 20 in 10 weeks.

My hamstring, though announcing itself, wasn't too bad during the practice. A little bit of the topical aspirin, and I was running just fine.

The last part of practice was an elmination marking game. Essentially, two lines of players face each other, with the front of one line receiving, and the front of the other line throwing against a straight up mark. The receiver can't move (much) when receiving the disc from the thrower. Once a thrower throws, she runs to the front of the other line to mark, much like a three man marking drill.

Now, the trick of the game is, if the thrower overthrows, turfs, or is handblocked, she has to prevent a completed throw when she marks next. If she doesn't, she's out. If she does, then she continues to the back of the line. There are no penalties for the marker for a completed throw if she had a completed throw when she threw just before.

I managed to overthrow on my first throw, we were throwing upwind, which was the difficult direction. I then handblocked the woman I was marking, forcing her to block the next woman. Eventually, the chain ended and someone else was the first woman out (we split into men and women lines). I did well in the game, making it to the final 4 (I think, might have been 5), before throwing a crappy upwind throw that just went over my receiver. Liz Gannes won it all, having turfed her very first throw in the game. I really enjoyed this game, too, which should indicate how much I enjoyed practice today.

Though, I'm going to be really, really, really tired tonight. I'm happy.

Dark chocolate benefits


Lots and lots of news about the benefits of chocolate. Tragically, it refers to the dark version, which I can't say I particularly like.

Shape, December 2007, p 154

whine "I can't survive without something sweet every day."

Shape's response: Have an ounce of dark chocolate, which as just 150 calories, instead of your typical treat. "It's practically a health food," says Katz. Several studies have found that its flavonoids - a type of antioxidant - can lower blood pressure and improve circulation, two factors that may protect against heart disease. Dark chocolate offers about twice as many antioxidants and mil varieties - just an ounce boasts more of these disease-fighting compounds than 1 ½ cups of blueberries (one of the most antioxidant-rich foods), according to a USDA analysis. But pure chocolate is the way to go: chocolate desserts like brownies and chocolate chip cookies may contain dark chocolate, but they're also loaded with butter and sugar, so they aren't the healthiest way to get your antioxidants, says Katz.

At the supermarket, look for a chocolate bar made with at least 60 percent cacao - the higher the percentage, the less added sugar it contains. Don't like dark chocolate? You can get similar benefits from hot cocoa. Use natural cocoa; Dutch processed version (which will say " cocoa processed with alkali" on the ingredients list) have fewer flavonoids.