Yard work and cardio

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Yard work and cardio
Yard work and cardio… that counts as weights, right?
Early… June?  I think?  Maybe late May?  Aww man… I’m bad at dates…
Even if yard work doesn’t count as weights, I can take the claim that I’ve started weight training again: After my physical therapist cleared me on Thursday, I was practicing deadlifts, clean and jerk, and snatch lifts at the gym on Sunday.  Granted, it was just with the bar… but still.  a 45lb bar is a heck of a lot better than not doing the lifts at all.
I started in with the lifting after I got to Evolution – everything I’ve read says that it’s safer to do weights before cardio, so I’ve been sticking with that tactic for now.  They went pretty well… like I mentioned, I didn’t put any plates on the bar, even for the deadlifts, since this was more of a “remind my body how to move, and how to react to weighted movements” exercise.
And my body reacted well!  Really well – I felt some twingy pain through the leg motions, but nothing that I haven’t learned to expect.  It wasn’t damaging pain, instead it was more where my body was remembering how to move, and the joints were being reminded how to carry the load that they’re designed for.
Slowly but surely, right? The theme that stayed true for the rest of the workout, and the rest of the day worth of yard work.
The cardio was at altitude, because working out in an altitude room is cool.  Also, the cheapest place to get access to all the machines I want.  But let’s stick with cool… because how many people can say that they spent 45min alternating between jogging and walking at 14,200ft?
Okay, probably a lot.  But still.  Not many Portlandians.
Then, I started into the real training: Cleaning.
Cleaning the garage – Not something you’d think of as working out, but after having a broken leg I can promise you that this wasn’t an easy task.  Honestly, it was really good training.  Constant motion, bending, kneeling, moving and carrying.  Lots of rearranging and sweeping and clearing and dragging; all things that shouldn’t be particularly difficult… but require strength and balance and dexterity.  Which are exactly what I’m working on right now.

My first hike!  Treking out and back on Eagle Creek.

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My first hike!  Treking out and back on Eagle Creek.
My first hike!  Treking out and back on Eagle Creek.
Friday, 02-June-2017
 It’s been a while since I broke my knee and damaged the ACL.
Honestly, that’s kind of long to say… let’s just start saying that I  broke my leg.  That’s quicker, and gives a pretty good overview of what happened.  Saves some time, you know?
And since life is being so busy and crazy, saving time is pretty good.  Why, you might ask?  Well, because I was cleared to start hiking again!!!
I’m not cleared to go too crazy though… so while I can go for a long-ish hike, I can’t go steep or treacherous, as far as terrain goes.  What to hike, what to hike…  Eagle Creek?  One of the most popular trails in the Gorge?  Simple, variable length, and full of people to come save me if I need to be carried out?  I think that fits the bill.
Parking would still be an issue though, since Eagle Creek is one of the most popular routes.  Sarah and I anticipated that though, so we headed out from Hood River early in the morning.  Technically we didn’t have to worry, since I’ve still got the handicapped sticker for the car… but I’d feel pretty weird parking in a handicapped spot, pulling out the backpack and hiking poles, and then charging in for a 7 mile hike.  Seems a bit disengenuous, you know?
So we

got up early, found a parking spot in a lovely bit of shade, and headed in.  Just Sarah and I, unfortunately… Ollie was dis-invited this time, since the trail has extremely steep sides (but a really nice trail), and I couldn’t hold the leash (broken, you know), and Sarah (very understandably) didn’t want to be dragged along by an over-energetic puppy the entire time.  Which meant that we could take our time, and set a pretty solid pace for ourselves as we traipsed into the woods.

The hike was kind of long and kind of boring.
I mean, I’d love to say that it was glorious, and full of birds and sunshine and donuts filled with spring cheer.  But, ya know, there’s a reason that I’m a rock climber, and not a hiker.  Hiking is kind of boring.  Even in the Columbia River Gorge, even walking along a cliffside above a river.  It’s good exercise though, so we stuck it out and enjoyed ourselves as best we could.
Both Sarah and I were a bit frayed from the week, so we split ways about halfway through, at Punchbowl Falls.  It’s a beautiful spot for lunch, so Sarah stayed and took a slow walk back while I pushed on ahead for a ways, trying to get my full goal of 7 miles in.  Which I did… but again, would’ve preferred to be climbing.
Then I turned around, hiked back, we met up, and headed back toward the house to the rescue of a very appreciative puppy.
What, too quick of an ending?  Well, the hike itself went really well: my knee held up really well, even with the descent into and ascent out of the Punchbowl.  Going down the trail was a bit challenging, but with Sarah helping out and my poles stabilizing me, there wasn’t really any issue.  The real challenge was pure endurance – I was so out of shape, that even this nearly-level trail was a solid challenge for me.  But that’s what we get in shape though, right?  Constant hiking, getting tired, and pushing ourselves?
It was a good push, and a very good start to my return to adventure in the great outdoors!

ACL Recovery: Weeks 8 and 9, and 9 addendum

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ACL recovery, week 8 (24-Apr-2017)
Hi all!  I’m feeling good!  I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m actually feeling kind of good!
This last week has been remarkable progress; Since Ed (my physical therapist) told me to stop using my brace and start weaning myself off the crutches, I’ve gained a lot of strength and stability in my knee.  It still locks out on me every once in a while (from weakness, not from ACL damage), but I’m able to walk and move around significantly better than any time since the accident.  I still limp a bit… but it’s a lot less noticeable now.  And I need to spend less mental energy focusing on how to walk, which is really awesome.
With that strength and stability, I’ve started doing walks during lunch!  After the accident my phone was tracking between 600 and 1500 steps per day, max… Yesterday, I tracked over 8500 steps.  I’m going to keep taking it semi-easy, but continuing to ramp up the walking and mobility is the name of the game for now, at least until next Monday when I get the next round of X-rays and Lockman testing.
Aside from all that… life’s moving on.  My and Sarah’s moods and outlook are steadily getting better now that I can actually move around, help take care of the house and just take care of myself.  I can’t drive the Mustang yet… though I’ve been cleared by the Physical Therapist to drive it.  The problem isn’t safety now; it’s strength.  Mustang’s have a very heavy clutch, and I’m just not physically strong enough to depress it safely yet.  So – more workouts.  More squats.
And being able to help Sarah around the house more has been really helpful to my mood as well; Everything’s a bit more positive around the house, even with all the rain we’ve been getting here in the gorge.
ACL Recovery, week 9 (30-Apr-2017)

A new Sunday, a new elevation. 16,400 ft this week… They’re really cranking it up this time. But it’s a fun challenge… Even if I can’t do more than 10min at a time on the arm bike.

But I’m working on it, and actually working my leg this time , which is a pretty huge change. Ed, my Physical Therapist, has me doing strengthening exercises now, though they’re being a bit hampered by this one small section of extension that’s being really annoyingly painful. It’s not a bit range, but it’s right in the range that I need to go up and down stairs, which makes it imperative that I work through it.
Aside from that, no real news. I still (knock on wood) haven’t had it give out on me, so we’re still tracking pretty well. Tonorrow we’ll see Dr. O’Shea, so there will be some more definitive information, in terms of X-Rays and new displacement tests. Here’s hoping that it’s good news!
And with that, I’ll sign off. I’ll send an update tomorrow after the appointment!
Love to all,
-Ben
ACL Recovery, week 9 addendum (sent 01-May-2017)

Well, that appointment wasn’t super helpful.

I mean, it was, to a point.  We learned that the bones are knitting back together pretty well, and the swelling is going down.  But the displacement test showed that my ACL is still stretched… and it may have even gotten a little bit worse since the first time O’Shea tested it.
But I haven’t had it buckle on me.  And it’s feeling better as time goes on, becoming more stable and more capable of what I need it to do.  Dr O’Shea even mentioned that, as my quads get stronger, the muscles actually unload the stress from the joints… meaning that the stronger I get, the less painful things will be and the more stable the knee becomes.
So we’re still in a holding pattern.  None of the doctors are recommending surgery right now, but none of them are ruling it out, either.
So we wait, and keep testing it.  Right now, the plan calls for Sarah and I to go camping next weekend, try out some light hiking.  Push me a bit, and see how I can handle uneven and tiring terrain.  And I’ll keep hitting the gym throughout the week, working to bring my strength back up.
Past that… we’ll see what we see.
– Ben