Sunday, July 20, 2014

MRI results and cross training week #2

Tuesday morning I had an MRI of my right knee and spoke with my orthopedic surgeon about the results the following morning. I have an oblique tear in the non-vascular (white zone) section of my right meniscus. We decided that given the tear will not heal on its own and it causes so much pain that I will be best served by having a meniscectomy. The procedure is scheduled for July 30th. The care that I have received thus far has been phenomenal so I am confident that the procedure will be a success. If recovery goes well I will be running again by October.

Image downloaded from 
Meanwhile I have continued my cross training in the pool. I am still really enjoying the training plan, so not being able to run has been bearable. For the aquajogging sessions I clip my ipod to a baseball cap for some tunes (idea from running buddy Christa Iammarino) and I purchased a waterproof mp3 player for longer swims. The FINIS product must be one of the greatest items EVER! I have been using it for a week and love it. No earplugs people...this little gem transmits the sound through your cheekbone.

My training week looked like this:
Monday - 54 minutes aquajog with warm up, 3 sets of 5 x 1:30 hard, :30 easy, 2:00 easy between sets, cool down; 3,000 yd swim (300 warmup before aquajog,(Aquajog), 300 pull, 400 kick, 300 pull, 4x200 on 4:00 (3:30 down to 3:19), 100 back drill,100 back swim, 6x25 back hard on :45, 350 paddles/buoy, 200 cool down)

Tuesday - 60 minutes aquajog with warm up, 3 sets of 4 x 2:30 with :30 easy, 2:00 easy between sets, cool down; 2000 yds easy swim (500 easy warmup, 400 kick, 300 pull, 200 free build, 5 x 100 free, 100 back cooldown)

Wednesday - 50 minute continuous swim (2800 yds.)

Thursday - 45 minutes of strength and stretch

Friday - 64 minutes aquajog (3 sets of 1:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 2:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 3:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 2:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 1:00 hard, 2 minutes recovery between sets); 3100 yds swim (250 free, 5x100 on 2:00, 250 recovery, 50 kick, 200 free, 4x100 on 2:00, 200 free recovery, 50 kick, 150 free, 3x100 on 2:00, 150 free recovery, 50 kick, 100 free, 2x100 on 2:00, 100 free recovery, 50 kick, 100 back cool down)

Saturday - 56 minutes aquajog (warm up, 4 x 5:00 hard with 1:00 easy between, 6 x :45 sec very hard with 1:15 easy between, cool down); 2000 yds (400 bouy, 400 kick, 300 paddle/buoy, 300 kick, 200 paddle/buoy, 200 kick, 200 paddle/buoy)

Sunday - stretch focus

The days that I am in the pool, I am working out for 2+ hours so I have started bringing nutrition with me. The best stuff has been Hammer Gel and Heed during the workout and Recoverite afterwards.

Another week down!

What is your favorite pool workout?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A new challenge

Given that I am almost 40 years old and have been running competitively for over half of my life, I am, in part, lucky to never have suffered a running injury...until now. Genetics and my marathon shuffle (low impact) likely played a part in my great "run" of being injury-free, but the streak is OVER.

I started having tightness/soreness on the inside of my right knee-area and directly under the knee cap in April. I originally thought that it was some form of tendinitis as the discomfort would disappear after I warmed up. I did a workout on winding trails in June. During the workout I did not feel a thing, but later that day the discomfort was worse than normal. I picked up my icing sessions, but the discomfort continued to worsen. By late June I realized that I needed to take time off.

I took two weeks of no running. The knee felt much better so I tried a run. I made it less than a mile. Uh-oh.

This week I went to an orthopedist. He took some X-rays and ruled out bone and arthritis issues. The most likely candidates now include a meniscus tear, which I will need an MRI to determine. I am hoping to get in next week for the imaging and back to the doctor for an analysis of the results.

I was initially very upset about being "for real" hurt, imagined every worst case scenario possible, and was absurdly weepy. This response was of course ridiculous and inefficient. Reason #100021 to have a good coach. Coach Clifford challenged me to embrace the forced time off as a time to work on my form and take a mental break from running. Additionally he gave me an aquatic plan that should allow me to maintain my fitness. Challenge taken.

I am about to complete my first week of cross training and I have no doubt that I will be an aqua-beast by the time I return to running. I was in France for the first few days of the week (without a pool), so the week looked like this:

Monday: 30 minutes stationary bike, 30 minutes strength and balance training; plenty of walking around France (shopping!!)

Tuesday: 30 minutes stationary bike, 30 minutes strength and balance training; travel back to the US

Wednesday: 2400 yds. (500 free warm up, 400 kick, 300 pull, 200 build, 5 x 100, 500 free cool down); got some stroke tips from Coach Tom

Thursday: 20 minutes stationary bike, 50 minutes strength and balance training (pool closed due to thunder); aquajog in the ICW (10 min. warm up, 2 sets of 5 x 1:30 hard with :30 rest (2-3 minutes between sets), 10 min. cool down)

Friday:  300 free warm up, aquajog workout (5 minutes warm up, 2 sets of 14 minutes (1 hard, 1 easy, 2 hard, 1 easy, 3 hard, 1 easy, then back down), 10 minute cool down), 300 pull, 2x50 on 1:00, 2x100 on 2:00, 2x150 on 3:00, 1x200 on 4:00, then back down, 200 back alternating kick and pull, 100 cool down for a total swim of 2500 yds.

Saturday: 500 free warm up, 400 kick, 300 pull, aquajog workout (3 minutes easy, 4 x 5:00 hard with 1:00 easy between, 3:00 easy, 5 x :45 very hard on 2:00, 10:00 cool down), 300 pull, 5x100 with paddles and alternating with buoy, 200 back alternating kick and swim, 4 x 50 free hard on 1:00, 100 cool down for a swim total of 2500 yds.

Sunday: A scheduled day off from the pool with 45:00 of yoga/stretching/balance/strength

Total swimming: 7,400 yards
Total aquajogging: 2:21:00
Total strength/balance: 2:35:00
Total bike: 1:20:00

Whew. Bring it on! My hopes are still alive for running Cal International Marathon in December.

Until next week,

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Update, update, update

It has been a while since I actually typed up a detailed blog entry, so this is a stab at updating my running, research, etc.

This has been a productive spring/summer on the research front. Other than the reports for IPOR, I have primarily focused on a project with my former professor and now running buddy and friend Yana Rodgers (Rutgers University). We were contracted by the Asian Development Bank to analyze the Household Income and Expenditure Survey from Papua New Guinea. In particular we are looking for evidence of gender differences across items including health status, employment, disputes, and assets. Without disclosing details we have found some substantial differences in some areas. We submitted our first draft to the ADB this week, which was a milestone for such a large project. I am reminded through this process how much more enjoyable it is to co-author work with a diligent, and intelligent friend.

This area of my life has been odd. I focused on shorter distances (1500-5000 meters) this spring because I needed a break from marathon training and was looking for a challenge. The exciting part was that I consistently hit paces on intervals that I have never run before. The addition of hitting the weight room several times a week certainly played a part. It was a relief to know that at 39 years young I can run faster than ever over 200-800 meter intervals. The frustrating part was that after some great races in February, including an indoor 3,000 PR, my races did not reflect my training. Perhaps I relied too much on my marathon base from the fall? For the first time in many years I was gassing out over the last half to third of each race, regardless of distance. This happened consistently from March-May.

I have already signed up for the California International Marathon in December and have plotted out a fall racing schedule. I am hopeful that the speed I rediscovered this spring, when coupled with marathon strength and endurance, will result in some fast times. Getting my mileage back up over the hot southern summers will be a challenge, but a necessity. I am still chasing that sub-2:55 marathon.  I hope to use this blog to update my training and hold myself accountable through the fall. I tend to be my worst enemy when I hit a rough patch in training and lose my confidence. By typing out what I am doing and thinking maybe I will see the bigger picture!

In other exciting news, I have a new member of my family. Meet Zoey, a sweetie that I adopted from the League for Animal Protection. She is almost a year and a half and I am completely in love with her. After a few weeks she has found her place in my pack and seems happy.
My little Zoey
Zoey calling an audible
Keep training,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Appointment to the Virginia Joint Advisory Board of Economists

I am honored and excited to announce that I have been appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Joint Advisory Board of Economists. The announcement is here.

The Board advises the Governor and the Secretary of Finance on the outlook of the Commonwealth prior the estimation of state revenues and development of the state budget.

Another economist also joining the Board is Stephen Fuller of George Mason University. He discusses the role of the Board and its challenges here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Presentation for the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Economic Summit XI

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being an invited speaker for the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce's Economic Summit XI. I spoke about the VA and Roanoke labor markets during and after the Great Recession.

The conference was quite interesting and had quite a mix of speakers. The two other speakers were a CEO of a software company in Roanoke and an author of a book (and PhD in Political Philosophy).

I met several people that will be great resources for future research, including folks from the Virginia Employment Commission.

Prior the conference I was interviewed by WFIR and Channel 10. You can hear the radio interview and view my presentation slides below.

WFIR interview

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Elderscholar Presentation at Roanoke College on Sentiments in the Commonwealth

Stephanie Garst of Roanoke College runs a wonderful program for seniors and retirees in the local community called Elderscholar. I presented to this group several years ago about my research on aging adults and obesity.

Today I will give a presentation on economic indicators in the Commonwealth. You can see the slides for my presentation below.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Presentation for the 2014 VAE Annual Meeting - Using Twitter in the Classroom

I am presenting twice at the 2014 Virginia Association of Economists Annual Meeting March 20-21. One of my presentations is of my paper (out next moth in the Journal of Economic Education) on using Twitter in the classroom to improve writing, reflection, and community.

You can see the slides of that presentation here: