Hope for your financial life and beyond

5 Lessons I Learned From My Recent Surgery

Last week I had surgery on my right knee to repair a slightly torn meniscus and to clean up some arthritis issues. I suffered the meniscus tear while I was biking with the kids last fall. Evidently the arthritis developed from the excessive running I did over two years preparing for two separate marathons.

Knee-2

MRI of my right knee. The meniscus can be seen in the black triangle spots between the bones.

Both issues were frustrating in that 97% of the time I wasn’t affected by them. I could walk normally, climb stairs and do almost anything else considered part of a daily routine. But I couldn’t bend deeply and put pressure on the knee without feeling a little pain.

And I couldn’t exercise to any considerable degree.

In the grand scheme of things the surgery was minor. It was an outpatient procedure that only involved three hours of my day and took the doctor less than 30 total minutes to perform. I don’t remember any of the actual surgery though having drifted off to sleep from the anesthesia.

But the whole ordeal – from tear to surgery – taught and reminded me of a couple big things.

Pay Attention to That Problem Area

[Read more…]

Stubbornness Cost Me Four Months of Running. What’s It Costing You?

Plantar_fasciitisThat twinge on the bottom of my foot sure didn’t feel good. One minute I’m running fine and the next minute I was praying “I hope I’m fine.” That was August 2013 when, after running about 1,200 miles in a year and a half, my left foot gave out, right between the heal and the arch.

Problem was that I didn’t know what it was then and quite frankly, I didn’t want to know. I had the Baltimore Marathon coming up in mid-October and had already completed two-thirds of my training. If I could endure the pain and run through it, then I’d rest afterward. No doctor’s diagnosis was going to stop me now if I could help it.

So that’s what I did. I taped my foot during training, kept running and completed the marathon in a personal best time.

Four months later I’m still paying for it.

[Read more…]

I’m Running Naked and Loving It

Hidden Nuggets #14 – “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” – Hebrews 12:1

running nakedHistorians describe a revealing practice among the ancient Greeks. Apparently it was common for athletes participating in distance races and other athletic events to wear no clothing. That’s right…au naturel. Debate continues as to when and where this first occurred. The idea behind it however is clear – remove all encumbrances so the body can perform at peak efficiency.

How times have changed…thankfully!

Last Saturday when I completed the Baltimore Marathon, I did so with over 3,000 fully clothed marathoners.  However, many of them were “running naked,” including myself. How’s that possible?

[Read more…]

That Moment When You Question Your Goals

Baltimore Marathon

2013 Baltimore Marathon finishers medal

Mile 18.

I’m deep in the heart of the most difficult portion of the Baltimore Marathon. My pre-race plan has worked to perfection, with two hours and thirty minutes of patient, steady running behind me. Just ahead though, I’m about to face multiple lengthy inclines, the kind that cut into your pace and can punish a runner late in the race. My legs feel good but I’m not looking forward to these climbs.

Every runner has to endure moments like this. It comes with the territory. There is no way I’m stopping with my goal of a sub-four hour marathon clearly in reach. I’ve been intensively training for the last four months and I’m not letting all that effort go to waste.

As a former psychology major, I’ve always been intrigued by our mind. What is it about the circumstances of the moment that trigger unusual, creative or bizarre thoughts? We think of things at the strangest of times. And as I began a slow and arduous climb in mile 19, I experienced this phenomenon, thinking of something I hadn’t dwelt on in a long time.

[Read more…]

I Need Patience Now!

Hidden Nuggets Series #13 – “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”   Hebrews 12:1

ID-10061781The words found in the above verse are fitting considering the incredible task I face. At 8:00 AM tomorrow, amidst the coolness of the morning and the likelihood of rain, I will attempt to complete the Baltimore Marathon in 4 hours or less. I set this crazy goal back during the first weeks of January and the moment has finally arrived.

It’s about time because I hate waiting.

And when the gun sounds and the early stages of the race begin, I will again fight my ongoing battle with patience.

[Read more…]

A Trick to Stay Motivated

Hidden Nugget Series #11 – “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Galatians 6:9

stay motivatedTwo weeks from today several significant milestones will take place in the Luke1428 household. On Friday, Oct. 11th, I’ll be flying to Maryland to compete in the Baltimore Marathon over the weekend. That event will bring to an end my arduous 5-month training schedule that has seen its share of nagging injuries, post-run ice packs and more diet restrictions than I care to think about. (Can I please just have a soda?!)

That same day Mrs. Luke1428 will turn in her final grad school assignment in what has been a three-year vocational transition from teaching high school math to becoming a full-fledged CPA at a private accounting firm. We’ve already celebrated the completion of her CPA requirements and this last class wraps up her quest to secure an MBA as well. I’ve written extensively in my monthly updates how mentally and emotionally challenging this has been for the entire family. I really can’t believe we’ve made it to the end of our long, dark tunnel.

Anything of value worth seeking brings some kind of hardship. Invariably the intense pursuit makes it incredibly difficult to keep moving forward day in and day out. The end looms so far in the distance. Weariness sets in. Discouragement soon follows. And then the questions begin.

[Read more…]

When Life Makes It Easier, Push It!

Boy Running in natureNews flash…Life is hard!

Not the most groundbreaking news for this Monday post. Honestly, it’s not even news at all. Our lives are filled with so many challenges we don’t even know where to start counting them.

There are instances however, where a window of opportunity opens, allowing the journey to become easier. Sadly, we often are caught up in our own challenges and struggles. So we fail to recognize the moment and it passes us by, useless and wasted. I was reminded of this again on a recent marathon training run.

A runner faces three types of terrain grades while on the course – flat, uphill or downhill. Runners love the flats as it allows us to get into a steady rhythm and pace. We tolerate the uphill portions of our run, slowly grinding them out, laboring step after step. The downhills are dualistic in nature, presenting the runner with two contrasting methods of approach:

[Read more…]

Marathon Training and Writing Mental Blocks

Marathoner grabbing waterI’ve heard it said that a runner is not ready for the next marathon until they have forgotten the last one. Whether that is true or not I don’t know. I have not forgotten much about my first marathon last October through the streets of Atlanta. Pretty painful after mile 22. Yet here I find myself beginning training again for another October run. I must be a glutton for punishment.

This time I will be traversing the streets of Baltimore on Saturday, Oct. 12th. My goal is to run the marathon in under four hours. To do that I will have to shave about 9 minutes off my time from Atlanta. I think that is a doable goal but it will still be a great challenge for me.

I’ve been running consistently all year but my official training schedule for the marathon started this past week. To meet my goal I’m putting some extra effort into my training sessions. Here is what I’m doing.

[Read more…]

Health, Wealth and Moments of Clarity

moments of clarityThe personal finance blogosphere takes the accumulation of wealth seriously. One can literally read hundreds of posts each day espousing the virtues of saving more and spending less in the hopes of one day reaching financial independence. That’s the pinnacle of wealth accumulation we strive for – the day when our money makes more for us in a year than we could make for ourselves in a year. That’s a sweet place to be.

So we spend much time and focus in this area of our lives. Researching. Writing posts. Sharing with others. Developing our blogs. It’s all part and parcel of the gig.

I can tell you, having been at this for almost a year now, blogging can eat you up if you allow it. So can working too hard at your day job. So can spending too much time watching television. So can updating Facebook all day long. So can any activity or hobby taken to excess.

By definition, when we overindulge in one area we naturally neglect other areas of our life that need attention. It’s impossible to give maximum total attention to every facet of our lives at the same time. Something inevitably has to give.

In addition to our personal finances, another area we sorely neglect is our health. There was a time in the not so distant past when this was true of me. I was consumed with my work. I was not getting enough sleep and I rarely exercised. I was sluggish, not eating well and sat around for most of the day. And the numbers on the scale kept getting higher and higher.

Then, to quote Zangief from Wreck It Ralph and Street Fighter II fame – “I have moment of clarity.” That clarity came in two separate events.

Two Personal Moments of Clarity

[Read more…]

A Momentary Lapse of Discipline Almost Ruined My Dream

Basketball on floorI hate dilemmas. Four weeks before the most important half-marathon of my two year, mid-life running career, I’m being asked to play in a pick up basketball game to help our high school boys get ready for their state championship playoffs. It’s a great opportunity for a bunch of the staff to “man up” and help the boys knock off some rust before playoff time.

Plus, I love basketball and in another life (high school) I was fairly good at it. Also having been a coach for about 13 years before retiring my clipboard in 2010, I had helped develop many of these players in their middle and early high school years. How much fun this would be to engage them on the hardwood and assist in their mental and physical preparation for the upcoming tournament. I really wanted to help them out.

There is one problem however. I’ve got a race coming up. I’ve been diligently training for three months pushing toward my goal of running an under two-hour half-marathon. What if I’m unfortunate enough to get hurt in this game?

A strained muscle. Maybe a twisted ankle. Or the dreaded tweaked groin. These things happen in basketball all the time and could derail my opportunity to train and potentially reach my goal. Is this fun and rewarding endeavor worth putting my body and my dream at risk? What in the world should I do?

[Read more…]

When Was the Last Time You WOWED Yourself?

Bring Your Best

Can you remember the last time when you completely exceeded any and all of the expectations you had hoped for? Remember how it sort of left you breathless in disbelief? I had one of those days this past Sunday and boy, did it feel good.

As those of you who have been reading here for a while know, one of my goals for the year was to run a half-marathon in under two hours. I’ve been training for the Publix Georgia Half-Marathon in Atlanta since December and was pretty encouraged lately by my training times. Still, there are so many unknowns on race day…like your stomach not digesting the pre-race meal well, getting tripped by another runner or poor weather conditions, just to name a few.

While I felt prepared, you could not have convinced me a week ago that I would be able to pull off this kind of effort.

[Read more…]