Ouch, My Back!

At some point on Saturday afternoon I hurt my back.  I don’t really know what happened, but I have been hurting on and off since then.  I missed the first indoor triathlon as a result, and I’m afraid to run or do much in terms of core work until it gets better.  Hopefully I can get a run in this weekend.  We’ll see.

Shin Pain and Treadmills

As I build up my run distance I have been required to run during the week.  With daylight in short supply, and work in high demand, my time for running has been limited.   Undeterred I have been running on the treadmill at work.  In the past I’ve had issues with my shins hurting while running.  In fact, last night I reviewed my run long from my first year of running, and even then I noted that my my right shin hurt while running, and that I thought I was landing harder on my right leg.

I had no shin issues while running last year, all of those runs were outside for short distances.  Even earlier this year my shins didn’t bother me at all while running outside.  Interestingly, however, the problems with my shins (especially my left one) started right away when I ran on the treadmill.  From about .5 miles to about 2.5 or so, my shins would kill.  They felt really tight, and really sore.  After 2.5 miles or so they would loosen up, and the pain was more tolerable.

On my quest to fix it, I found some comments on a running forum about increasing the slope of the treadmill.  I tried going to a 1% incline, and that seems to work.  My shins have been much better.  It isn’t perfect, they still get tight, just not as bad, and totally tolerable.  So, hopefully this trend can continue.  Next week I’ll reach 7.5 miles for my run (though I have an indoor tri next weekend, so we’ll see how that impacts my ability to actually get a full run in.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything will work out alright.  Here’s to an injury free year.

FFFFreezing Cold Run

My planned 6 mile run just happened to occur on the coldest day of the year to date.  The temps hovered at 8 degrees, with a windchill of -8.  Yikes, that’s cold.


I wore a knit cap, polypropylene thermal underwear, and layer 8 thermal tights.  On top I wore a thin long sleeved wicking shirt, a layer 8 thermal top, and a New Balance thermal zip up running jacket.  I also wore cotton gloves, and 2 pairs of wicking socks. Per my wife’s advice I also slather vasoline on the exposed parts of my face.

The first two miles my face was really cold.  I was really concerned with frostbite, but I thought that I could at least manage on 3.3 mile loop at the West Hartford Reservoir.  After about 1.5 miles I felt warm and toasty.  I was sweating, but not uncomfortably so, and I was neither cold nor hot.  I felt like as long as I kept running I would be in that nice toasty spot.

The first loop went well.  I had no pain or soreness at all.  Once I got warm my heart rate and breathing normalized, and I managed a 10:10 average pace with a 151 HR.

By the end of my run, my hat had accumulated a ring of icy frost from all of my head sweat.  Just goes to show how cold it was, brrrr.

Between a mile and 1/2 a mile or so from the end of the second loop I started feeling a weird twinge on the outside of my left knee.  It reminded me of my IT band issues, and it made me really nervous.  I sure hope that doesn’t flare up again.  That would make me miserable!  This week is a light week, no runs over 3 miles or so, so I’ll hopefully be able to recoup, and if all goes well my next long run will be great!



Weekend workout

As of last week I was admitting to lack-of-dedication-syndrome. The only known cure for lack-of-dedication-syndrome is get-off-your-ass-therapy. Last Thursday was the first day of therapy and I managed to put in a VERY painful 3 mile treadmill run. I have such a hard time running on a treadmill. My shins get really sore and tight, I hate it! The first half mile was fine, then my shins tightened up, and for the next 1.5 miles it was making a deal with myself that I could make it to at least (fill in the blank). By the two mile mark my shins stopped hurting and then I was just slugging it out. I made it to 3 miles and was glad I did.

Then Saturday I did a short swim (about a 1/4 mile) and followed that up with an early morning (for me) group run of five miles on Sunday, and then another 1/2 mile or so swim.

The 5 mile run was surprisingly refreshing. I really got into my zone and had a relatively easy 10 minute mile zone 2 run. I pushed up the pace slightly over the last half mile or so. I was really happy with the results.

Now, this morning, I am surprised to find myself not sore at all. Woot!

Today is an off day from running, maybe some stretching is in order, what a concept.

Oh Fine

Wow, since snowpacalypes 2011 I have been too busy to get any runs in.  That is sad…and pathetic.  Really, there will never be, and has never been, time to get runs in.  So, now that phase two of my marathon training plan has started (this is the first week of phase 2) I have no more wiggle room, and I have to make the time-like it or not.

My training plan has 3 phases.  The first was to get a base going with short runs, nightly stretches, and core workouts.  I started strong, but things ended when I had to take a week to clear trees, keep power going, and tend to the other insanity that inevitably crops up as a result of 9 days without power.

After that, worked kicked in, and a vacation popped up on the horizon as well.  Where did that come from?  Anyway, work is busy as ever, and I’m also doing a bit of remodeling work at a house for my grandparents.  Between that and all the kid activities, there is just no time to run.  So what am I going to do?  Actively make time to run.  I’m not going to let this year pass me by.  last year was pathetic.  Without a goal race I just let the year go, blah.

Phase 2 of my training plan has me building up the distance slowly to get to a spring half marathon.  Then phase 3 kicks in to prep me for the longer miles needed to make my marathon distance.  The third phase builds off the second phase and starts adding speed work and other niceties.  The good news is that the first phase had some wiggle room in it, and although I don’t have as strong a base as I wanted going into phase II, this still hasn’t interrupted the overall training plan.  Taking any more time off would really change that and put my marathon training in jeopardy.

I started the year off with a short run, and I hope this will get 2012 off to a great start.

Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch repair

Within a few weeks of buying my Garmin FR 305 I managed to crash on my bike with the only injury being to my pride and the LCD of my watch.

This is what the watch looked like after my smash fest:

The watch still beeped, and it synced to the computer just fine.  I did have a weird issue with the file for that ride, some data was missing.  The miles were right but the map data was off.  I’m not sure what happened there.


At any rate, my options were limited.  I didn’t want to buy another watch, but even in the short time that I owned this watch it had really grown on me.  I decided to try to fix it.  I did a quick search for fixing the watch, and found a number of people who spoke generally about replacing the battery.  The most important piece of information I found was that the watch had to simply be pried open.  Apparently it is sealed with some sort of glue.

DISCLAIMER: Opening the watch may ruin it permanently, and it will definitely void the warranty.  I figured that I would take the chance because it was broken anyway, but if you aren’t comfortable cracking open electronics you shouldn’t try this at home. 

I tried a number of things but ending up using a watch back opening tool from a watch repair kit that I have.  It looks something like this one:

Image from www.esslinger.com


It is a bit sharper than a butter knife, without the serrations, but more dull than a regular knife.  You can pry anywhere along the seam around the middle of the case, but I found that it was really hard to get open until I put the knife near the lower watch strap here:

Note the screwdriver is there only to point out the location, a screwdriver will likely damage the plastic of the case.

The watch case gave a little cracking sound as the glue seal broke, and then it was just a matter of carefully pulling the two pieces apart with the watch knife.  Once it came lose it looked like this:

The blue arrow points to the GPS PCB, the yellow arrow is pointing to the main PCB (circuit board) which includes the memory, and the LCD controller, the LCD is under the main PCB board.  The red arrow is pointing to the battery, and the green arrows are pointing to the connectors that connect the battery terminals to the PCB.  As you can see this is just pressure fit.

The top piece is now completely disconnected from the watch strap which is attached to the bottom of the watch case, which in turn holds the battery.

With the top piece off we need to get to the LCD screen which is under the main PCB.  There is one screw that needs to be removed at the top of the board by the copper terminals.

Once that screw has been removed the PCB will pop off along with the LCD screen.  The LCD screen isn’t affixed to the PCB so it will just pop off and reveal a flexible cable that connects the LCD to the main PCB.  Be careful not to move the LCD too much or you run the risk of disconnecting the cable that connects the main PCB to the GPS PCB (more on that later)

The LCD screen is the white plastic thing at the blue arrow.  The flexible cable connects to the PCB at the connecter (red arrow).  The tape holds the locking clip on the connector down.  Peel off the tape, and with a small flat head screw driver you should be able to carefully pry up the clip and release the cable.  Once the cable is released the LCD screen will come right out.

Now you just need to put the new LCD screen in by attaching the cable, and slipping the clip on the connector down.  Then , if you salvaged the tape put that back over the connector.  If you didn’t salvage the tape I wouldn’t recommend using scotch tape because I’m not sure what will happen in terms of static electricity from the tape.  If you have Kapton tape (which is safe to use on electronics) I would use that, but otherwise the clip should be OK without the tape.  Be careful to make sure that the cable is oriented the same way as before.  You can do that by laying out the new LCD screen prior to disconnecting the old one.  In order for it all to fit together without twisting the cable there is really only one way to do it, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

Now clip the LCD screen back onto the PCB.  There are tabs on the LCD that fit onto the PCB so that it is all held on securely.  Put the PCB back down and screw in the little screw.

With that, the hard part is done.  Press the two halves back together and, while holding the two halves together tightly, hit the power button.  If all went well you should get the forerunner splash screen followed by the satellite signal acquisition bar like this:

If the bar doesn’t move at all after a while (try going outside or near a window) you may have accidentally disconnected the cable between the main PCB and the GPS.  Mine was working fine, but then I decided to take it apart again to take these pictures.  The cable got disconnect from the GPS PCB.  You can reconnect it the same way as the LCD was connected.The connector is at the red arrow above.  It is also possible that the other end of the cable got disconnected from the back of the main PCB.  You can see that connection next to the LCD connector two pictures up from this one.

As I said above, the two parts of the watch are pressure fit together and come from the factory attached with glue.  If the two pieces aren’t fully pressed together the battery contacts will lose connection and the watch will shut off.  In my research I found a tip from this site which suggested using clear RTV silicone to glue the watch shut, and to hold it together with electrical tape.  I used the silicone, which you can buy at an automotive store, and electrical tape.  I ran the silicone around the edge of the top half and squeezed it together.  With a paper towel I wiped off the excess.  I wrapped the watch in a clean paper towel and tightly wrapped electrical tape around it.  Electrical tape works best when it is stretched.  You can pull it around the watch, and at every half turn pull the tape until it stretches, and with the tension on the tape complete another half wrap.  Continue that until the watch is completely wrapped like this:

This looks bananas (Yellow tape optional)


I used the paper towel just to keep any residue from the tape off of the watch.  Depending on how long it is applied it may leave some stickiness behind.  By using a paper towel any residue will stick to the towel instead of the watch.  The paper towel also has the added benefit of absorbing any excess silicone, and providing some air pockets to cure the silicone.

After 24 hours I took off the tape and went for a run.  It worked great.

I purchased the LCD on ebay as part of a broken watch.  I did note that they had some plain LCD’s for sale too (without the rest of the watch) for around the same price ($35).  At the time I wasn’t sure how the LCD was attached, I thought it might have been soldered, so I figured having the entire parts set was safer.  Now that I know how easy it is to replace the LCD I would say buying the LCD alone should suffice.

That’s that.  With any luck this should last me a long time.

The marathon training begins!

So today marks the beginning of my marathon training program.  I put the program together myself based on something I know I need to do, and from a bunch of research I have been doing over the last year or so.  I plan to focus on running with some core work and maintaining some bike and swim fitness.  I am ok with letting the other stuff go, but the run training will be important to me.

My starting weight, as of this morning, is 182 pounds.  My goal is to reach 160 by the time I run my marathon next year.

My current 5K PR is 26 minutes and 6 seconds.  I hope to get that down to 19:30 or so.

I want to run a half in June at sub 1:30, and a full marathon in the fall at 3:15.

Most important of all, I want to stay injury free all of next year.

I will not be disappointed in myself if I miss any of those targets.  I have kids and spending time with them is the most important thing I can do.  However, I will be upset with myself if I don’t get to at least 165 because, baring any odd illness or injury, that is very controllable.

Race year 2011 was fairly low volume for me.  I focused a lot on swimming towards mid season, but mostly it was a relaxing year.  Next year will be more intense, but hopefully just as fun.

My Son’s first 5K

This weekend was the Hartford Marathon.  My wife was doing the Half, my sister-in-law was doing the full, and I decided to do the 5K with my 6 year old son.

We had been training, but not as much as I thought we needed to.  We are both so busy that it is hard to get some time to get a run in.  If my neighborhood were more run friendly I would have done a bit more training, but having to get in the car and drive somewhere made it difficult.

We started the day with a peanut butter sandwich and a chocolate milk.  When we arrived I searched for my wife and sister-in-law, who came early, but couldn’t connect with them.  I of course had to make a potty run, the lines were long, but we made it just fine.

My son was very nervous.  There were a lot of people, and the Hartford Marathon is quite a spectacle for a little guy.  I prepped him as best as I could and we got into line with all the other 5kers.  I decided to start us out back so that he would feel like he was making good progress by passing a bunch of people as opposed to having people pass him.

When the gun went off he stayed right next to me as I found a clearing or two for us to run in.  When he noticed that I was finding gaps he decided to take off and bounded between people.  He took of at that point and I just ran behind him impressed with his zig zagging skills.  He was doing an 8 minute mile or so at that point, and I knew it was too much to sustain for 3 miles.  We just weren’t fit enough to do it (both of us) about half a mile in I took off his sweath shirt and he took off once more.  He managed this fast pace for about a mile and a half.  I was really impressed!

Unfortunately, after the 1.5 mile mark he got a stomach cramp.  The peanut butter combined with the break neck pace was too much for him.   We started walking, and I could tell that he was really suffering.  We walked for about 3/4 of a mile and he kept looking behind him and seeing people pass.  He asked at one point if we were going to be in last place.  I said that we weren’t going to be, but even if we were I was very proud of him.  He kept fading, and at about the 2.5 mile mark I picked him up and ran with him a bit.  He had very much checked out of the race at this point and I felt bad that I had brought him this far out with no way easy way to get to the finish.  With about a half mile to go I put him down and said, can you hear the finish?  We need to run when we get there.  Well, I barely got the sentence out and he shot out like a bullet.  A police officer shouted “You aren’t going to catch him” and he was right.  I would guess that my son was running a 6 minute mile at that point.  I couldn’t gain any ground on him no matter how fast I ran.  He eventually faded and we walked for a bit, but he looked much better now.  He bolted again, and once again we were buried in cheers from people who knew I had no hope of catching him.

Eventually I did catch him and we ran hand in hand through the finish.  When we got across the line I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him.

We did the 5K in 38 minutes, and, for the record, we were no where near last place!

I will never forget this day as long as I live.  I’m so proud of my little guy for a really successful run.

My wife was no slouch either.  Despite a head cold and a trip to the med tent for feeling light headed, she had a 7 minute PR in her half.  My sister-in-law had leg cramps starting at mile 10 of her marathon, but managed to make it through with a walk/run finish of 5:45, not bad for a first marathon.

It looks like everyone fought off some pain to make a great and memorable race!

Metric Century Ride of Death

I got together with some friends and our goal was to ride the local rails to trails up to Massachusetts.  That was very close to a metric century, so that was our goal.

I have said many times that I don’t really like riding my bike on the rails to trails.  You are pretty limited in terms of speed because of all the people on there, and you have to constantly slow down/stop to get through the many intersections you pass through.  In addition, each intersection presents a series of obstacles, like steel poles or fences, that you have to go around/through at a slow (read unstable) speed.  Last year my sister-in-law got hurt when she feel at low speed going between a couple of poles on the way across a driveway.

As a relatively unsteady bicyclist, I am in trouble going through those things, and I dread it.  This ride was no different.  The trip was actually very smooth for the most part, and there were very few people on the trails in the beginning.  About 40 miles into the ride, we got on a part of the trail where two sections merge into one.  I looked back to make sure no one was coming from the other side, and proceeded.  I was riding beside a friend, and I pulled slightly to the side near a guard rail that was between the trails and a street that was parallel to the trail.  I felt myself get too close, and I instinctively reached down to push off the guardrail.  I couldn’t reach it and of course leaning that way pushed me every closer until…something on my bike caught on a support beam on the wooden guard rail and the bike came to a stop, I did not.  My bike stayed put more or less, and my feet and body went over the side of the guardrail.  I sensed a car coming and pulled my feet in which caused me to land on my feet and, because I was wearing cleats I slid back.  Fortunately I was very far from the car, so all was good.

My friend quickly asked what I hit and what was hurting.  To my surprise I wasn’t hurting at all.  I landed on my feet, my hand were on my bike/the guardrail, so all was good in the world.  In fact, none of my body made contact with the ground.  I did have a scrape on my left forearm, and a couple of scrapes on the outside of my right leg.  My Garmin 305, however, wasn’t so lucky.  I smashed it on the guardrail and the LCD shattered internally.  My front brake lever got messed up too, so I did the last 20 miles or so with only rear brakes.

I was able to fix the front brake once I got home, so the only real casualty was the Garmin.  I count myself very lucky, it could have been so much worse.

Rockwell Park – Bikers Edge Bike Tour

This past weekend I did the 50 mile Bike’s Edge Ride.  It was a really great ride through the hills of Harwingting, New Hartford, and Barkhamstead.  I didn’t plan on a 50 mile ride, in fact I was thinking that 25 was more my style, but at the last minute I was convinced to do the 50 miler.

I have to say, I’m glad I did.  The morning started off rainy, I almost blew off the ride completely.  The rain ended at 7:30, and I was at the even in Rockwell Park in Bristol by 8.  A little after 8:30 we took off, and within about 30 minutes the sun came out.  The day ended up being perfect.  The route was great!  Enough hills to keep it interesting, but plenty of flat areas and down hills to keep you fresh.  Of course, the scenery can’t be beat.  I think I might turn the route into my standard 50 miler.  I think I can trim a handful of miles off and get it down to 30 or so, while maintaining the best parts of the ride.

I have a couple more rides coming up, including a ride on the rails to trails from Framington into Massachusetts.  That should be fun.  After that it will likely be time to start up that spin class again.

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