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

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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.

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3 Big Victories, 3 Big Disappointments From My 2013

Times Square Ball

Adieu 2013

2013 is nothing more than a Times Square Ball drop from being in the books.

As excited as I am for 2014 to arrive, I’ve been thinking over the Christmas holidays of the incredible year 2013 was for myself and my family. As I’m sure yours was also, our year was filled with ups and downs. So today I’m going to conclude my writing for the year by sharing the biggest victories and disappointments I encountered this past year.

3 Big Victories

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Life Have You Spinning in a Hamster Wheel? You Can Still Benefit

hamster in wheelMy kids live for PetSmart shopping trips. Even though our trips take us there for dog food, bones and squeaky toys, we always end up detouring over to the caged animals. My boys love searching for the snakes, camouflaged in their pen, hiding among the sticks. Meanwhile, the girls ooh and ah over the cute, furry bunnies. “Look at the floppy ears Daddy,” they happily squeal, as only little girls can.

I find those things interesting. However, only one thing at the pet store causes me to pause and put down my 30lb. bag of Purina One chicken and rice blend dog food. The actions of these critters mesmerize me each and every time.

Hamsters.

Furry little bodies. Noses always sniffing. Tiny feet. Little bitty ears. And what’s with the constant running in the exercise wheel? They just make me laugh.

On one shopping trip, my crew watched this hamster get in and out of its wheel for five minutes straight. Run, get out. Get back in, run, get out. Get back in, run, get out. Over and over again it did this. We were rolling in the aisle with laughter.

As I watched the hamster gymnastics, I thought, “What a metaphor for life. So many people stuck in a rut, running but going nowhere. They accomplish nothing, as they do the same things over and over again.” I congratulated myself, as I swiped my debit card at the checkout line, for being such a clever thinker. Leaving the store, I jotted down a mental note to write a blog post about that someday.

A funny thing happened on the ride home among the “Stop thats” and the “Hey daddy” questions coming from the five year old in the back seat. I began to think my brilliant analogy might be incorrect.

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Adjusting to Change

“Air ball…Air ball…Air ball!” I hadn’t heard that in a long time. I would have to do some adjusting to change the way I was playing.

adjusting to changeThe mocking chant rang from the guys lips on the sidelines who were waiting to get their turn in the pickup game. I turned and acknowledged the humorous jeering, nervously chuckling over what had just happened. “Did I just shoot an air ball?” Perplexed, I strolled back down the court to pick up my man on defense.

Granted, it had been awhile since I had laced up the sneakers and touched a basketball. Two years to be exact, since the last time I led a practice as varsity boy’s coach. My commitment to take up the reins at home for Mrs. Luke1428 as she pursued a new career had put an abrupt halt to my 10-year coaching run.

Several possessions later I found the ball in my hands again, wide open just beyond the three point arc. I launched the shot again, as any great shooter would do. Short again. What’s going on here? I felt like I couldn’t even get the ball to the basket.

I knew my shooting motion was sound. You don’t forget a motion that has been hardwired into your synapses since middle school and led you to average 30 points a game your senior year at a small town private high school. Thousands of shots through the years produced a perfect motion. Knees bent…elbow tucked…release…follow through. Yet something was missing. My mind continued to process.

It took me another half-dozen misses to understand the sad reality of my struggles. When the thought occurred to me, everything made perfect sense.  Resigned to my plight, I signaled for a sub to come in the game for me and walked off the court towards the bleachers muttering to myself,

“I can’t jump anymore.”

Adjusting to Change Diagnosis

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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:

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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.

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