Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Ankle

A couple of weekends ago, March 18, I managed to twist/sprain my ankle while working in my garage.  Lindsey was out and about and I was home with Tyler.  He and I had gone out and dropped off the recycling, returned a few items, bought some screws, and gone to McDonald's.  Once I had him down for his nap I went back out to the garage to get back to work.  I wanted to get the garage rearranged in order to make room for a fridge that my dad would be bringing from his place.  I was in the process of hanging a yard tool rack, had the holes drilled, and was going to move the ladder to get to the last screw, when I decided to miss the last step of the ladder.  I hit the ground with my right foot, twisted my ankle and immediately felt pain. 

Flashback to last May.  Tossing a football around the back yard with my brother-in-law, I managed to land awkwardly on the same ankle.  On a jump to catch the ball, I landed on the ankle such that the sole of my foot was facing the left leg, a pretty bad sprain that took about 6 weeks to heal up. 

Back to the present.  My first thought concerning this latest injury was, "Crap, if this is hurt as bad as last time, and I am going to be off of it for 6 weeks, I am not going to reach any of the goals this spring."  I limped into the house grabbed and ice pack, and texted Lindsey in hopes of getting some sympathy.  Now, I should have realized this injury wasn't as bad as the last one right away considering I was able to get up under my own power and hobble into the house.  Second, after about an hour on the couch, ice and some ibu, there was only a dull ache in the ankle.  So as soon as Lindsey gets home and looks at my ankle, she pronounces is "not that bad" and tells me to get up and walk around on it to see if I can do anything.  Now, what I really wanted was an excuse to watch basketball.  So I got up, and realizing that most of the problem appeared to be in my head, got back to work in the garage.  I finished hanging the yard tools, moving boxes, and generally cleaning up the garage, which is now ready to house a second fridge. 

All in all, the ankle wasn't that bad.  But I am a softy and a bit of a whiner, and my wife, bless her, takes it, but knows when to push back.  So, I got out and did my chores, planted some plants, cleaned the garage, all that, and then Saturday I actually got out and Umpired my first baseball game in about three years.  The game was a Varsity game (I was supposed to do a JV game, but it ended up being cancelled).  I did however, get to skip my long run Sunday (not that I wanted to), in favor of cleaning out Lindsey's craft room, which houses the stationary bike, which I am back to riding twice a week. 

I finally got back out on the road Tuesday, March 22, to try out the ankle.  Tuesday's are speed days on the training schedule, and this was a 4x400, I set up the coaching on my RunKeeper app, and set off to do the work out.  The coaching on the app worked great, as it beeps when it is time to start a new interval.  My ankle was sore at first but once I was warmed up was great.  So Tuesday was a huge success.  Thursday, I got out and did my Tempo run, 4 miles at 8.5min/mile.  I was a bit slow on the last miles which was a bit disappointing, but I did get all 4 miles in.  Then on Sunday, I reached a new milestone, crossing 7 miles on my long run.  It was a great week even after the ankle scare.

I promise to update and share on the training plan which kicks into high gear next week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I have left a handful of things hanging out there over the last couple of weeks.  I am going to reach all the way back to February to put a finish to the phone story.  The follow on to the phone story wasn't just 'hey, new phone arrived, insert battery, activate service, off I go."  No, this story got a much deserved second chapter.  The new phone was remarkably easy to set up and activate, so I assumed that I could get all that taken care of and then as soon as the battery died, plug it in charge and away we would go.  Turns out not so much.  The phone did as it was supposed to, died and I plugged it in, but it didn't charge, and didn't charge, and didn't charge.  I tried holding the plug, unplugging and replugging the decide, switching chargers, trying the docking station at work, everything.  This phone was utterly hopeless.  It managed to charge to about 30% life, which allowed me just enough time to make one or two calls.  So way back on Friday, Feb. 25 I took the phone back to the Verizon store so that there was a witness to the problem the phone had holding a charge or taking one.  Fifteen minutes later I left the Verizon store with a new Droid2 Global being sent to my house, a solution I could live with.  The new, an actual new phone, arrived at the house the following Monday and worked like a champ.  So ended the (cell)phone drama for the time being.

I would like to go off on one of my pet peeves in life, the automated phone system.  I recently had the pleasure of phoning my insurance company, in a fruitless effort to get coverage for my wife to see a local specialist.  It started innocently enough, my wife called and she was informed that the insurance would not cover the doctor because he was out of network, and that maybe she could get a 'Gap Exception' to see him since there were no other specialists within our are (next closest is in Spokane).  So I called my HR group in hopes of finding out what to do about getting a Gap Exception.  Turns out that my company doesn't have a Gap Exception provision in the plan and therefore the only thing we can do to is see the doctor and then appeal the claim to try to get it paid.  Now, I have carefully planned and budgeted for the pregnancy, utilizing Flexible Spending and watching closely the insurance is going to date.  So I looked at those balances and tried to weigh the option of seeing the local specialist and having all of that payment come out of the FSA, and how would that affect the balances remaining for the duration of the pregnancy and birth.  This didn't seem like the right option, but was willing to walk that path if I could ease Lindsey's concerns.  So I thought I would call the insurance company in an effort to get the coverage.  This is where the fun begins.

The insurance company has an automated answering service where all answers given by the customer are spoken.  I get through the autobot and talk to a representative.  I go through my bit, she informs me the company doesn’t allow gap exceptions in the plan, I ask if I can to the pre-approval appeal, and she sends me to another person.  I am put back into the autobot, answering all the same questions.  I talk to another person, who tells me I am in the wrong department, sends me to the next one and gives me the phone number for this department, an omen.  Back into the autobot, who apparently is tired of hearing from me and starts misunderstanding me and I have to repeat a couple of answers.  This time I get lost in the autobot, get kicked to a representative who sounds like he hates his job and the last thing he wants to do is talk to me.  At this point I am again transferred, only this time the autobot informs me that the call can’t be connected and hangs up on me.  I am a little frustrated at this point and call the last number given to me, a sampling of the conversation I have with the autobot.

The autobot asks 'Are you a doctor?'
Me, "no."
"I didn't understand that, Are you a doctor?"
"I didn't understand that, Are you a doctor?"
Thinking (what part of NO don't you flipping understand?) "NO!", emphatically. 
"Are you a medicare customer?"
"I'm sorry I didn't understand that, are you a medicare customer?"
"No!" Are we seriously doing this still.
"I'm sorry I didn't understand that, are you a medicare customer?"
"NO!", under my breath I add, "you worthless piece of shit".  As I am becoming increasingly frustrated.
"What is your memeber ID?"
I give member numer.
"I'm sorry I didn't understand that. What is your member ID?"
I repeat the number slowly and emphatically with dramatic pauses after each number, this does the trick, and I repeat this for my date of birth.  When we are asked one more question.
"Can you tell me the reason you are calling today? You can say...(having heard this three times already today I immediately tell the autobot why I am calling.
"I'm sorry I didn't understand that.  Why are you calling today? You can say...
I am fuming now, "REPRESENTATIVE!"
"Thank you, I will connect you to a representative. Would you like to take a brief survey after your call today?"  I say no, all I want to do is talk to a person at this point.

At this point I talk to a representative, again who cannot help me and am transferred, no autobot this time, and go to someone who tells me that I need to go to the rapid response group and gives me their number.  This of course means that I am going to be disconnected, and sure enough autobot comes on and tells me that I cannot be connected and hangs up.  I am really mad now, I call the last number given, scream my answers at autobot who heard every word this time, and then when asked to take the survey I say yes.  I talk to someone who actually helps me, I reserve my anger, as it was not this person's fault autobot hates me.  She is helpful, starts some of the work, tells me that there might be another doctor, and was the best part of the experience.  When I finish with her, I expect to go to the survey, and click.  Autobot won for the time being. 

I hope you lauged at that, looking back it is a bit funny.  Lindsey and I decided, after my two hour phone game with autobto, and being told that there was nothing the insurance company could do to actually help, that we would see the doctor in Spokane.  Which is fine, the cost of driving to Spokane a few times is far less than the cost of seeing the doctor in town out of pocket.  And to top it all off, Lindsey and the baby are fine, if you want those details you need to call me up. 

The running update:  this is a whole other story to be told later along with my first baseball game in three years.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

It has been a couple of weeks since I managed to get on here and get my thoughts and happennings into writing.  This has happened for a couple of reasons: 1) I was in glorious Butte, MT for work the week of the 7th, 2) I have been working on baseball umpiring rules and tests, 3) I have a bunch of spring type activities to do around the house, and 4) I ran the first of the three races on my schedule this spring. 

Where to start in the catching up. The race was definitely the highlight of the week, so let's kick it off there. I was up in plenty of time, had a small breakfast and then started getting dressed. At which point, Mr. T was raring to go. He wanted a race number too, and as you can see in the picture, he got one. Mom made him one and we taped it to his "Daddy's Little Helper" shirt and off we went to the race.

It was possibly the nicest morning for a run so far this early spring. The weather was sunny and in the low 50s when I got going. The course started off going downhill away from Kimo's and into Columbia Park, where it followed the foot path for a little over 3 miles and came back. There was a water station near the 2 mile mark (also the 4 mile mark coming back) where I managed to grab a cup of water both times. The second time I stopped long enough to drink the water, walk for a few seconds and then get going again. There were two great things that happened as I finished the race. first, Lindsey and Tyler were sitting about a tenth of a mile from the end and as I am huffing my was towards the finish line I hear, "Yeah, Daddy!" Which was absolutely amazing for me. Second, as I got close enough to see the clock at the finish line I saw that only 54 minutes had elapsed, so I kicked it up a notch an finished my first 10k race at 55:30 seconds according to the clock. My official time was 55:17.5. Wow, I managed to do this under an hour, and qualified for the yellow bib at Bloomsday in May.

It was a pretty good way to finish off the week. Especially after I got done with my business trip to Butte a day early.  I was in Butte to watch engineering scale demonstrations at MSE where they were scaling up the geopolymer we are testing.  After a bad start to the week, where we didn't have success with the initial formulation.  We ended the week on a positive note.  I also managed to get my baseball umpiring rules test done last week too, and am now ready to get going on that this spring.  It is also time to start working on the yard.  I have seeds to plant, a garage to clean, a wheelbarrow to fix, some dirt to move, and sprinkler valves to prep. 

I will be back in a couple of days with a rant about electronic answering services and to update everyone on this week's running activities.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why I Run - Part 1

I do a lot of reading.  I am constantly scrolling through the universe to gather useful tidbits of advise, knowledge, and useless trivia to help me make it through my everyday life.  Now, for ths most part I gain only useless trivia which, my dear wife will atest, I use either to talk about sports or make lame jokes.  I am also a first class nerd, hence the lame jokes.  Back to reading...I try to stay current on those events happening in the world or country, whichever is more appealing as an article,  and use this information to formulate my own opinions.  I pride myself in taking an open-minded approach to viewing politics and other situations which affect me or my family.  I have no intention of voicing my politcal views or discussing my stance on hot topics in this space.  In my quest for knowledge, I find myself either focusing on a specific topic or just wandering aimlessly until something interesting comes my way. 

Enter my latest obsession, running.  I have been running since August, where after years of talking about exercising, I finally mustered the strength, courage, motivation, and any other appropriate adjective, to get off my butt and hit the road.  In reality, it started because I mentioned that I wanted to run the 5k Cable Bridge Run last December.  Once I told my wife, we then told her parents, and then I truly felt like I was committed to actually doing something that I had intentions of starting but perhaps not any true motivation.  This, in a nut shell, is why I began running. 

Like many other things I have done in my life, I started running by first researching the subject on the internet, where I found a plan with which I felt I could live. (More on my couch to 5k program later.)  I finally stumbled upon Runners World, where I found all sorts of useful information. I found training plans aplenty from 5k to Full-Marathon.  But alot of what the site contains is how to keep one's self motivated to get out and run every week, month, year.  There are lots of ways, and I will share many of mine as we continue this journey.  It boils down to why.  Why do you run?  What makes you get up at 5 in the morning to get that 5 mile run in?  Why do you strap on those shoes and just go? 

My answers are easy and the same as everyone elses, I suppose.  Because it is a calming release.  It clears my head.  It gives me a chance to think, or be by myself.  I have no distractions.  But why do I run, what will keep me going when I don't have a goal, when I am not trying to out do myself?  Yesterday the answer struck me, my son (and second child due this summer), and my wife.  My family, running is a solo activity, no one can run your miles for you, what makes you run is personal.  I love my family and want to spend as much time on this Earth with them as possible, but I also do this to show my son that I lead an active healthy lifestyle.  I want to lead by example my son is already at the point that he sees me lacing up my running shoes and he starts clambering to go with me.  He is what inspires me.