Saturday, May 16, 2015

Second Round of Prolotherapy Injections

I hit 12,000 total miles on my ElliptiGO during yesterday's ride.
I have owned it 1 1/2 months shy of two years.
Bridge is in Pepperell, MA
On Wednesday, I had the second round of Prolotherapy injections in my si joint and lower back from Dr. Borg-Stein at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital. I had my first injections six weeks ago and I have been thrilled with the results. My doctor was just as happy as I have been on hearing the results so far. I am one of the few people who seem to get pretty quick reactions from the injections (which means I probably won't need as many rounds of them)! My lower back and si joint feel better than they have in just over 30 years. I have a new found stability and am no longer feeling my back or si joint "go out" or give me muscular problems in my daily life. Honestly, since around 1984, each day has been a struggle to not let my back or si joint ruin each day. I would run to try to get normalness, but I very rarely had a good night's sleep without getting up multiple times to stretch or "crack' or "pop" something that felt out of place. I avoided doing a lot of things around the house or even going to events because I was always feeling uncomfortable. It is nice to be able to move around and do all sorts of activities now, without any repercussions.

For the past month, I am just rolling through life feeling feeling very stable. I have had a few days where things might get a little bent our of alignment and the next day, I would be fine again. I have been doing heavy training on my ElliptiGO during this time. So, two thumbs up to Prolotherapy.

Besides getting injections for my left si joint and one of the facet joints in the lower back, this time I also got an injection halfway between the si joint and the left hip. She said this is where the glute medius often gives people problems and that is true for me. Besides feeling a "fullness" when I got the injections, I didn't feel anything after them in terms of discomfort (even did a light 30 miles on my GO that afternoon). Last time, I could feel the ligaments tighten near the injection point, but I guess that has already started healing, so it wasn't obvious to me this time.

I am letting things heal and not rushing into running (if I can) and I am getting the real results I wanted and that is to go through life without so much daily discomfort. I did try a run two weeks after the first injections and it felt great. I did two laps around the neighborhood (one mile) and my whole left hip and pelvis area felt tremendous and stable. I had no problems.  It was wonderful!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

ElliptiGO Every Day in May Challenge

This month is the second "Every Day in May Challenge" and the goal is to ride your ElliptiGO every day at one of these goal levels: 5, 10, or 20 miles per day. I am GOing for the 20 mile challenge. Last year, I rode every day in the challenge and accumulated just over 1000 miles. This year the challenge started during the ElliptiGO Spring Classic so I had some people to ride with. Then last week I rode my highest weekly mileage ever just going over 300 miles for the week. It really wasn't that bad. My only problems were getting mileage in as it was getting dark and sometimes getting thirsty.

There is also an ElliptiGO photo challenge #EDIM and #ElliptiGO. I have been trying to put a photo up on twitter every day and found out I was one of two winners for the first week!

Here are some of my photos. The first group ElliptiGO photo is the winner!

Plus I ran into my ElliptiGO riding neighbor at the end of a ride this week. I think we own the only two ElliptiGOs in Nashua.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

2015 ElliptiGO Spring Classic: a fantastic duel to the top of Castle Hill

This weekend was a great weekend for ElliptiGO riders from all over the United States.The 2015 ElliptiGO Spring Classic brought us all together for social rides, a race, and  an opportunity to just spend fun time together with other ElliptiGO riders.

On Friday,we had a group ride to get in some miles on the following day's race course as well as to get some mileage in for the ElliptiGO Every Day in May Challenge where riders try to hit one of three levels of riding each day of the month (5 miles, 10 miles, or 20 miles).  Riders came from all over: California, Arizona, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, and other states to this event on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Saturday morning was the race. The previous two editions of the race were held in Hingham, MA in August and thus was called the ElliptiGO End of Summer Classic. I won both the 2013 End of Summer Classic and 2014 End of Summer Classic races, but wasn't feeling as confident for the Spring Classic due to the lack of outdoor training on hills during the winter. But, I was excited to race (actually real jittery), knowing there was some serious competition this year. I told myself that this would probably be my only race of the year (unless my hip somehow gets better) and so I was going to make sure it was the best 10 minutes of racing I could muster.

The race was a straight 5K with a 180 degree turn-around at about the 2 mile mark before riding back on the course and then a finish up a winding path to the top of Castle Hill. The morning had a brisk chill in the air and a pesky wind that would be in our faces for the first part of the race.

I could go on and on about the race, but I will leave it at this. It was the most exciting, nerve-wracking, exhilarating, and just plain fun race that I have participated in during my over 40 years of competitive racing. I tried my usual tactic of just sprinting off the starting line and getting distance on all the other competitors as soon as I could and then just hope to "claim" the race from that moment on. It worked real well last year, but this year Jeff Caron was ready for my initial move. Once I thought, I might I have achieved my goal after around 30 seconds or so I turned around to see if I had done any damage. I got a lump in my throat as Jeff and his ElliptiGO slid by me and right into the lead. The race was on!

Heading toward the finish line side by side.. Photo by Vic Pearson

In my private fantasy world, the race turned into Haile Gebrselassie vs, Paul Tergat in an Olympic final. It was a preview of that night's Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquuiao title match. It was Red Sox versus Yankess. More reality based, it was simply two junior high boys on their bicycles racing to the corner candy shop full tilt. Indeed the race was truly a neck and neck battle of back and forth surges all the way to the finish line. There was many moments when I was micro-seconds away from just conceding the race and being proud of a 2nd place showing to a far superior and younger athlete.

At the last moment before the race, I decided to put my Polaroid XS100 HD Sports Camera on my ElliptiGO and filmed the race from the front of my GO and I am glad that I did. The video shows the lead changes and the speed and effort of an ElliptiGO rider whenever Jeff gets right in front of me. I don' t think we were ever separated by more than a second or two during the entire race and in the end we ended up with the same time and I was just lucky to be the guy in the front at that moment. For all it was worth, the win didn't matter as much as how much fun it really was to duke it out on our GO's because that was such a thrilling ride all the way to the finish line.

Here is the finish line photo!

photo by Vic Pearson
Jeff Caron is a very accomplished runner with many outstanding races and victories in major events. I have some minor more personal accomplishments in all my racing through the years.. A little ElliptiGO race is really not that notable in any scheme of things, but it wasn't the race that was important, it was the absolute fun of racing together neck and neck without either of us giving an inch. I also think such a race was totally unexpected on an ElliptiGO. Here is what Jeff wrote after the race,

"Thank you, Jim Hansen,  for giving me one of the greatest racing battles I've ever had at yesterday's ElliptiGO Spring Classic. I initially thought a 5K wouldn't be long enough to get this kind of a race between two ElliptiGOs, but I was proven wrong as Jim and I were both pressing from the start, separated by no more than 10m the entire race, back and forth lead changes about 6-7 times, finishing on an epic hill climb and an even greater finish!"
I had the same sentiments as I had written, "Thanks Jeff Caron for the epic back and forth battle and pushing this broken-down runner in such an intense, thrilling, and nerve-wracking ride all the way to the top of Castle Hill."

So if you ever want to experience breakneck and exhilarating racing, get yourself an ElliptiGO and meet us at next year's race!

Here is a video from the finish line showing the finishers completing the race:

And here are the race results.
Photo after the race. This was a beautiful place to end a race!

The day after, we got together one final time for another group ride around Gloucester, MA. One thing I notice about ElliptiGO riders is how fun and happy they are to be able to ride. I  never wanted to be the older hobbling runner plodding down the street trying to get some miles in while pretending to be younger and more capable. These runners look so depressed as they trudge along! I watched as my ElliptiGO friends, some in their late 60s and early 70s scampered up some pretty steep hills and maintained a pretty quick pace as we did our 20 mile ride. And they all had gigantic smiles on their faces!


Love the appropriate words on this famous statue, "They that GO down to the sea..."

The race was fun, if not really meaningful to anyone beyond the participants. It was a blast meeting and riding with new and old ElliptiGO friends around the beautiful North Shore, but to me there was an even more meaningful element to the weekend. Race director, John Childs, who did an excellent job putting together the race and weekend contacted me a few weeks before the race. He was wondering if race could be used in some way to raise some funds for my work in Kenya in the slums of Nairobi where I work in the schools.  I will be going for my third trip this summer to the Mathare Valley and it is a passion of mine that gets me excited even more so than riding my ElliptiGO.

John Childs, me, and Francois Lamonthe
We decided that it would be a wonderful goal to see if the ElliptiGO community could raise support to send one child to school for a year at one of the school's where I work. It costs $38 a month to provide the schooling (the city does not provide education for children in the slum) and that cost also gives the child two healthy meals a day and some medical care. Some of the participants have decided to help out by donating a month's support. I am just thrilled for any amount of money as the average person in the slum earns about $1 per day. A little bit of money from America goes a long way in Kenya. By supporting a child, we can start to give that child a future (education is the key) so that he or she can raise themselves above the extreme poverty and hopelessness of the slum.

At the awards ceremony, one of the prizes for top racers was a beautiful print of a painting by Francois Lamonthe of three ElliptiGOs crossing the finish line in front of the beautiful castle that marked the end of the hill and of the race. As I understand it, the actual painting was to be sent to ElliptiGO headquarters in CA, but head ElliptiGO guy, Bryan Pate had a better idea. He said to have a silent auction at the race and use the proceeds for Missions of Hope in Kenya to help sponsor a child. I am pleased to say that the painting now has a wonderful home and that the actual bid was generously rounded up and that more than half a year of a child's education is paid for already from that painting alone. I can only imagine the relief of a parent from the Mathare Valley slum knowing that their child can now attend school and receive an education and not go hungry. I love seeing two of my passions merge together in a meaningful way. I can't wait to meet this "ElliptiGO" child this July!

The race finish was even closer than Francois imagined in his painting!
I just want to thank all my friends in the ElliptiGO community who came out to race, support the racers, or to ride in one of the rides. Thanks to John Childs for organizing such a wonderful race. and weekend There was a 5k run too! Thanks to Francois Lamothe for painting a beautiful painting so that award winners could have a wonderful reminder of the race and weekend and for donating his painting to help out with my work in Kenya. Thanks again to John Childs for coming up with the idea of helping out in Kenya. It is not that he didn't have a lot of stuff to do already. And thanks to Jeff Caron for not only helping out all weekend, but for providing such a fun and memorable battle during the race. Somehow, I think that next year, he will know just what to do to get the win!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Eliud Kipchoge wins the 2015 London Marathon but have you seen this?

Eliud Kipchoge pulled off a win at today's London Marathon against the current world record holder Dennis Kimetto and the previous world record holder and London Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang.

But do you remember  this? Twelve years ago an 18 year old Kipchoge took on Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele in the 2003 Paris World Championships 5000m  final and came out on top! That is quite a range of success against the best runners in the world.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

2015 Boston ElliptiGO Group Ride

Sunday, the day before the Boston Marathon, a group of ElliptiGO riders from around the country got together for a group ride. I made it to Boston a little late, but found my friend Jeff in the parking garage and we were able to find the rest of the group halfway through their ride out by the Charles River. We had a sunny day to ride and then had time to enjoy a lunch together. Here is a short video I made showing us taking over the streets and pathways of Boston.

filmed using the Polaroid XS100 Extreme Sports Camera

photos by Jeff Caron

Next weekend is the ElliptiGO Spring Classic Race held at Castle Hill in Ipswich, MA.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Two days after first Prolotherapy injections

I am also really happy to finally get to ride my ElliptiGO outdoors
this week after riding 1300 miles on the indoor trainer since January 1.

Wednesday, I had my first prolotherapy injections for my si joint and lower back. What I expected was that I would be sore for a day or two and beyond that feel nothing new. I was told it may not be until the third set of monthly injections that I notice any difference and would be able to tell if it works for me or not. My doctor also said that for a very small percentage of people it works right away even after the first injection. Prolotherapy involves injecting a substance into ligaments that make them inflamed and starts them on a healing process to tighten them up. The osteopath I went to in order to put my si joint back in place before the injections says it is like fusing the joint back together.

Since I started having si joint problems when I started competing in triathlons back in 1983, I knew this was a chronic problem for me (and it led to a torn hip labrun that I had surgery for in 2011 to repair). The injections weren't as painful or plentiful as I imagined. When I got down to my car 20 minutes later to drive home, I thought my pelvis area was feeling better, but it could be due to the lidocaine or whatever medicine they put in the shots for pain-relief.

After an hour drive home, I felt pretty good, and the injection sites were not that sore at all. As I walked around, I felt as if the bones of my hips and low back had been tightened up, but the muscle around them had been loosened from their tightness. It was a good feeling. I was more steady and solid on my feet instead of feeling off and twisted like I usually do. Again, I think the medicine or just the positive feelings of taking care of business (finally) had my feeling good.

I didn't exercise that day (as suggested) and while I was a bit sore that night (nothing as bad as when my hips are tight and out of alignment), I woke up still feeling good. I noticed that my roll out of bed was easy. I usually can't stay in control of twisting out of bed or into or out of a car because there are certain parts in my lower back that feel dead. I walked around all day with what felt like a new left side, I was in control of my hip movements on that side. It felt like my left (bad) hip had been zipped into place and was now pulled back where it belonged. I assume this was because of the si joint and not the hip, but that is how it felt. As I walked, my hip worked normally, something I am not familiar with at all. It was really weird and the knee (popliteus) tightness and tightness on the bottom of my foot had disappeared. My left leg was moving and holding my weight normally right down to the bottom of my foot. Gone was the twisting and off balance feeling I am so accustomed to. I haven't felt this way in years- dare I say since 1983, I do not understand this and expect it to all fall apart soon, but I rode my ElliptiGO the next day for 15 miles and 24 miles today with no changes in how good I feel. I also felt more balanced on my ElliptiGO, although not perfect, something I have been struggling with since the summer. Everything is working better!

I did not expect this at all and don't expect it to continue, how can it? I keep thinking the ligaments will stretch out again or something else will start hurting or fall out of place, but for now I am enjoying what feels like the start of a new body. Basically, I always felt something messed up in my left hip (could it have been the laxity in the si joint that threw everything else off) and that there seemed to be a piece missing in my left lower back that made it always feel like it was collapsing just a little bit (no strength there). Could those little injections already have started to tighten things up. They aren't supposed to take full effect for 4-6 weeks. Was it more the relaxing of a big spasm when she put the needle into my lower back? That even surprised the doctor.

What I do know is that I can feel better, if only for a few days and I feel really good that I am on the right path. What I don't know is even if this eventually makes me as strong as an ox where the ligaments made me weak, if I will ever be able to run pain-free again or even run again. Who knows what will happen when I start to run. I definitely am not going to try doing that yet. I will let things heal and just be patient. If it all falls apart tomorrow and I lose all these good feelings and improved movement and balance, I will not be disappointed, because this just shows me that I can get back to a more balanced body that is strong and working on both sides. I am just really perplexed at how quickly things started to feel so good! I would be extremely happy to feel this good for the rest of my life as it feels like a breath of fresh air to this constantly twisted painful body. I don't go back for my second injection until the middle of May. It will be interesting to find out what happens to my body in the next few weeks. Let's just say that this little experiment is making me very happy, as I was extremely worried that I might just be wasting money I didn't have, to try out some new type of therapy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Three Alignment Exercises for Pain-Free Running and First Prolotherapy Injections

Here are three new exercises to try that work on improving your alignment for better and more pain-free joints when running. I had my first prolotherapy injections today, so I am not ready to try these yet, but once the ligaments around my si joint and hips tighten up again. I hope to get my alignment under control. These come from MaryAnn Berry and feature ideas from Posture Align Therapy.

A common myth is that running is bad for your joints because it is high impact and leads to joint wear and tear. But if you are experiencing this pain or joint wear and tear, consider that running is not the culprit.

In truth, your body is simply out of alignment, kind of like a car that needs an alignment. Your car’s tires (or your knees) wear unevenly and eventually need to be replaced or repaired. While that might work for your car, it’s not a great plan for your joints.
These three simple alignment exercises are no quick fix, but they will help get your joints into a better position before you run.

I had my first Prolotherapy injections today to my left si joint and lower back. I only felt a few injections, but my doctor used guided flouroscopy (I think) to move the needle around to hit the ligament attachments on the bone. I had a big spasm from the injection in my lower back. The injections are supposed to make me sore today, but I feel pretty good. Actually the lidocane, or numbing agents, has my hip and pelvis feeling more stable and better aligned (it could be just my positive thoughts!) I will need to go in monthly for a few months before we know if it works for me. A small percentage of people feel better after just the first set of injections. It does not immediately heal things, it inflames the area around the joint so that it can jump-start healing. As my osteopath said, "It should make it like the si joint fuse together." My hope is that strengthening the joint helps with my instability and then I can better deal with my imbalances and misalignments. The doctor does say that after all is done, I may need PRP or stem cell treatment in my hip joint.