Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sorry for the Delay..... I'm Back Again

Okay, so it has been a while.  Well I am back.  I have just returned from a trip to Minister Creek and my friend Mark was talking about my blog.... Ding! The bell goes off..... oh yeah, I have a blog.  So I hiked Minister Creek again, got caught in the rain again, but had another great time.  Several big plans this summer that I will keep you updated on.  1) Triathlons - hopefully 5 in all with one under my belt already. 2) Backpacking - 3 trips planned with the final one over Labor Day weekend on Isle Royale in the middle of Lake Superior. We are flying in by seaplane so that will be real cool.  4) Finally in October I return to DC to run the Marine Corps Marathon for the second year in a row.  I will also do a bunch of road races throughout the summer and fall  4) Vacation to Surfside Beach in July and that completes it..... Updates to follow as the training rolls on.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Minister Creek...... Gotcha Back!

So my friend Mark, his sons Preston and Clayton and step-son Kevin headed to Minister Creek on the weekend before Memorial Day to hike the trail. This was the first ever backpacking trip for the four of them, so it was very exciting. For me, it was the first time back since hurting my knee in January. We had some rain, some warm weather, and memories that will last a lifetime!

Clayton, Kevin, and Preston on the way to the trail!

Mark and Clayton starting out up the "hill"

Some weird wormy thing......


On the Overlook in the Pouring Rain
A wet lunch break under a giant overhang!

Just before camp..... everyone ready for a break?

Home Sweet Home!

Tronk inside the tent drying out!

Mark on the bridge.....

Mark and the boys.... almost done

Kevin "putting out the fire"

Hiking out.....

Tronk on the trail

Minister Creek Rocks Awesome!

The Pump House....

The Sawmill..... Good Eats!

The Ride Home..... Kevin is lying down in the back!

So we had a great time.... we met a lot of nice people on the trail in the rain, including a bunch of young ladies who termed themselves HAGS..... High Adventure Girl Scouts. We shared some laughs with the people we met on the trail, and were impressed with the tenacity of those out there in the rain with us.
The boys did great and are looking forward to their next trip. As for me, the knee held up and me and Mark are planning higher adventures!
As a point of importance.... we ate at the Sawmill Restaurant on our way home. Great food, great prices, and after you are done stuffing yourself, ICE CREAM! I haven't eaten there in about 25 years, but it was everything I remembered and more.
Until next blog..... the training continues!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Back in the Saddle..... er sort of.

Tronk - Happy On the Trail!
Well the past few weeks have been busy. I have started working out in full and doing a lot of cross training. Over these few weeks I have started the P90X program, started feeling good while in the water swimming, and have had a few good bike rides. The running is coming slowly….. as there is still pain in the knee when I am running any distance or downhill. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t hurt and swell for two days following the run. For now the strategy is to do shorter runs and build my tolerance and running strength back up to where it was.

I did manage to get in a YUT-C loop that entailed about 50% walking and 50% running. I enjoyed being in Mill Creek Park and took in all the cool sights. Last week I worked out for nearly 10 hours, so I was happy to average almost an hour and a half per day!
When you sit on a couch in January with your entire leg wrapped up following knee surgery, you hope for days like these. Some pictures of Mill Creek Park.....

On Friday May 14th, my wife, daughter, brother, niece and her friend traveled to Pittsburgh to see Sugarland in concert. It was my first country music concert and I had a lot of fun. They know how to give a good show and we all enjoyed ourselves tremendously.


Kyrsti and Macie

Tronk and the Better Half

The Group - Tronk, Brother Steve, Aubrey, Macie, & Kyrsti

Over the next few weeks the plan is to keep the cross training going along with some weight training to get my strength back up. I talked with Brian Musik last night about him completing the MMT100 last weekend. What an accomplishment! I am not sure I will ever get to that point, but it may be something down the road I may have to try. For now, I will set my goals on another 50K and some shorter trail runs and my favorite road races.

Congrats Brian! You Rock Dude!

Caution - The Trail Will Bite if Provoked!

Tronk again..... Happy at Mill Creek

If you ever have heard the saying, if you fall off the horse, get back on. Well this weekend I am heading to the Kinzua Dam area with my friend Mark and his soms to backpack the Minister Creek Trail. Yep - the same trail I tore the meniscus on in January. I am going back to bite the dog that bit me...... Stay tuned for pictures and story!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Week in the Life of TRONK...........

The last couple of weeks have been very interesting, busy and a lot of fun. I got to start working out last Monday, so I decided to go for a walk/run to see how things would go. I have heard that running is a lot like riding a bike. Once you learn how, you don’t forget. Well the first time I started running, somehow it felt weird. I wasn’t sure if I was waiting for pain, pleasure or somewhere in between but every time I took a step I was waiting for that agony to come, a lot like when the dentist is drilling in your mouth. I did a walk/run for about 30 minutes and was satisfied with the effort.

With that behind me and me feeling pretty good, Tuesday night my friend Mark and I went out to ride the bike trail from Mineral Ridge to Canfield and back. It is about 22 miles round trip and I was up for the challenge. It was a bit cold but once we got going we were plenty warm. We rode out nice and smooth and felt great. Once we turned around we realized we were riding into a head wind and drafted off of each other to return to the Ridge efficiently as possible. I was good and tired after the ride but two good workouts in a row felt great after 4 months of layoff.

Wednesday I headed to the YMCA in Youngstown to swim with Sue, who is one of the ladies, I coach with in the winter swim season. She had a nice little workout in mind so we swam about 1700 yds. in 45 minutes. Sue then went on to teach swim lessons and I drove home and got in another 30 minute walk/run, this time walking about 10 minutes and running 20. The knee still felt pretty good.

Thursday my brother and I hit the links and played 14 holes of golf in Hubbard. I hit the ball often so I figure I had a decent day of work. It was a day off of the pounding on the knee and I enjoyed every one of the 100 or so strokes I took (I am big on practice swings – but I don’t always see the benefit).
Friday we were preparing to leave for Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling WVA so I came home from work early and got a straight 25-minute run in. I was feeling it a bit in my knee so I decided I would do nothing but walk on Saturday at the track meet.

Kyrsti ran the steeplechase Friday night and although it was not the time she was looking for, she broke her personal best and lowered the school record at the same time (she is the record holder for this event at Seton Hill). We were very proud of her!

While in Wheeling we stayed at the Spring Hill Marriott, which sits a top of a giant hill in Wheeling. The views are awesome and from one side of the hotel it overlooks the track.

Saturday Morning we headed to the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville Ohio. Kyrsti was not slated to run until 3:00 or so in the afternoon so after our complimentary breakfast we headed back to Ohio for the mall. I am not a big shopper but I had fun walking around, stretching my legs and doing one of my favorite hobbies; people watching.

As we were finishing up our ‘Tour De Mall’ a young girl approached me and asked if I would participate in a survey and she would pay me some cold hard cash. I reluctantly said yes and the questions began. As Taylor and Pam were standing there, they both agreed to participate in the survey also. My girls name was Kasey and she refused to have her picture taken for this report. In fact, she had never heard of a blog or the Internet for that matter. Pam was questioned by Mitzy (only in WVA) and a young man with a ponytail down to his rear end interviewed Taylor. After we provided them with some preliminary info, they took us into the office and presented us with eye tests and product placement to see what would catch our eyes at the grocery store. It was kind of neat and kind of scary at the same time. After we completed the surveys, Taylor and I were paid $6.00 each and Pam was paid $9.00 (because she was a female in between the ages of 23 and 50 and had bought a roll of paper towel in the last 3 months).

We then grabbed a bite to eat and headed to the track meet to watch Kyrsti run the 5K. It was getting hot and was very sunny and I knew it was going to be difficult for her. We encouraged both her and her friend Andra to do well. As we were waiting for the race, an elderly man collapsed and the ambulance and fire truck responded.

The race soon started and Kyrsti was on pace for several laps but I think the heat got to her and she slowed down considerably. Several girls in the race were seeded to run sub 19:00 minute 5K’s but no one was breaking 19:00 today. Kyrsti finished 9th overall, was seeded 11th and had a time of 20:45. It was not her best but given the conditions this was very respectable. She made her daddy very proud the way she supported her teammate Andra who ran her last race as a senior at SHU.
We got home late Saturday night and I planned on running in the morning at Mill Creek. At about 10:00 am Sunday morning I headed to the park and started my run around Lake Newport, on the side of the road in sort of the gravel trail that runs along the road. My pace was slow and I was planning on running until it either got uncomfortable or I got too tired – whichever came first. I ran for about 30 minutes before I took my first walk break. I adjusted my brace, had a little drink, and started running again slowly. I felt really good and decided to jump on the trail for a bit. It was very difficult to maneuver over the rocks and roots with the brace so I power walked the trail and got back on the road at the first chance. Once I returned to the covered bridge, I ran down the road section to the Silver Bridge and returned to the Mill on the trail (walking most of it again). I went for 66 minutes and was feeling pretty darn good about myself!

Monday morning I woke up with some swelling and tenderness on my newly surgically repaired knee. I took some vitamin I, attended drills at the Fire Dept. and took some more vitamin I before bed. Pam and I walked for 30 minutes Monday night around town and tonight we walked for 40 minutes and it doesn’t feel too bad. Hopefully tomorrow I will be out again. Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A "Walk-a-Bout"

So the above picture is my new exercise uniform. I have been walking about 3-4 miles per day at a fairly good clip but nothing compares to a good run. Unfortunately, I had a follow-up with the surgeon today and running will not come soon enough. I will be walking for about another 2 weeks and then introduce running slowly and as tolerated.

As you can see in the picture, my knee is still slightly swollen but this is expected for 15 days post-surgery. Dr. Shannon said that recovery is moving along fine and that everything is normal. A little bit of vitamin I for mild discomfort but other than that all is going well.

The Hockey Rink

Over this past weekend, my wife Pam and I traveled to Neville Island in Pittsburgh to watch my daughter Kyrsti run at Robert Morris University. This complex houses an indoor driving range, several hockey rinks and gymnasiums. It is really a nice set-up and everything is brand new.

The hills surrounding the complex

The driving range

So the plan is to continue power walking for the next two weeks and gradually add short distances of running into the walk. Doc told me to take this slowly as the meniscus continues to heal. I hope to make it to Mill Creek this weekend for a long walk in the park. When you can't enjoy running, you start to go a bit crazy. Hopefully the park will be all the therapy I need!

Stay tuned as the recovery continues!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Frosty Nipple - Torn Meniscus 2010




On January 30 we headed to the Minister Creek Trail to do some backpacking on a trip that has become affectionately known as the "Operation Frosty Nipple". I should have realized that the word "operation" was the one I should have been concerned about.
On the coldest weekend of the year, ten of us adventurous souls decided we would camp and hike the trail located near the Kinzua Dam. Sounds fun right? Well you betcha it was! The biggest problem we had was remaining on the trail, as there was so much snow there was no trail to find anywhere. We decided we would do some "off-piste" hiking and found it to be a lot of fun and very adventurous. As you can see, the Minister Creek Trail has a lot to offer and we took full advantage of the small crowds and no one trying to jump in front of us in line to see the rocks and snow before us.

The Boys in the Crevice

So we were moving along slowly and enjoying every single footstep as we slipped, slid and gripped to keep from falling. We laughed at each others missteps and were having a lovely time making fun of the nine other fools we were with on this cold afternoon. There is no room for thin skin with this crowd, as whining gets you ridiculed and ostracized from the group.
We walked along the top of the mountain and made sure to hit all of the crevices and cool rock formations before deciding to descend to the bottom and follow the creek back to camp. We had been walking for about 4 hours but most of this time involved playing in the snow and Keith's son Mark explaining all the rock holes and stuff to us. He is kind of like Euell Gibbons...... I think he may have even eaten a few pieces of nature along the way... mmmmmmmmmm
Anyway, as I was coming down the mountain, I stepped with my right foot and then my left. When I went to move the right it did not come out of the ground. So imagine if you will me with my right foot stuck in the ground and my left foot in the air to take the next step going down a mountain. Have you ever had physics? Force + bad stuff = pain. Remember that formula?
My right knee hyper-extended..... or as they say in the medical field BENT BACKWARDS! OUCH!!!!!!!!! Yep, that's what I said.... especially after I got my left foot in front of me and on the ground so I could push back up to get my right knee to go the other direction - like the way it is supposed to go! A total of three POPS...... one going forward and two going back. I will never understand the math of that, but it sounded like putting your finger in your mouth, pulling your cheek, and making that popping sound.
Man I knew I did some damage right away because it hurt like a real son-of-a-gun. We were about two miles from camp so I hobbled along with my friend Keith and made sure not to say that I jacked my knee up to too many people. Remember, no sissies in this crowd.
When I returned home from the Operation Frosty Nipple, I told my wife what had happened and decided that when I woke up in the morning this would all go away. I took some Ibuprofen and went to bed. In the morning I awoke to find my knee had doubled in size. I went into work and decided to call my family doctor Howard Slemons. He got me right in and was amazed at my story. He sent me for x-rays which came back negative but he suspected I had some internal damage so he referred me to an orthopedic..... Dr. Brian Shannon who works out of Sharon Regional Health Center.
Long story short, MRI confirmed a torn Medial Meniscus, or as Dr. Shannon said a "complex tear" and possibly some MCL strain. Surgery was scheduled for March 25 at Sharon Regional. Dr. Shannon is a pretty cool guy and he took great care of me! Turns out he played football at Notre Dame and was on the 1988 National Championship team with the Rocket Ishmail. Small world huh? Got his autograph for free on a bunch of stuff.... like prescriptions, return to work slips, FMLA slips...... maybe I can sell all of this stuff on E-bay to pay for surgery?? ha ha ha That is if I don't mind disclosing all of my personal health info to the entire e-bay buying public.
So over the next several months I plan on documenting what I hope will be a great comeback to my 2010 season. You get bummed when you can't do stuff and so I am working on a "bucket list" for the upcoming year. I hope to go for my first "walk" tomorrow....... 6 days post surgical.
Here are a couple pictures of my knee post-surgical........ UGHHH!!!!!

Until next time my friends...... the road to recovery begins tomorrow!