Ninja Runner vs Polar Vortex

It’s dead of winter. But I ran 3 miles outside today!

Before you declare that I am a little crazy, well, I know that already. Yet hear me out.

After last week’s polar vortex which plunged our temperature in the arctic range, we are enjoying a slight break today. During the cold blast, the mercury here in our place plummeted to -15 F (-26 C), with wind chill in the -20 to -30 F. It was so frigid last week that school was forced to close, not from snow, but just from the bitter cold. It was so frosty across the US and Canada that I have seen photos that the mighty Niagara Falls froze and stopped flowing.

But today was different. The thermometer reading have wandered above freezing. It was even a few digits higher than the freezing point that the ice coating the roads have melted and it was not slippery at all. It was a heat wave!

So that’s why I decided to go out for a run. We may never have another “warm” day like this for a while. In fact, it was a balmy 37 F, when I went out this morning.

Besides, over the years I have invested on high-tech cold running gears. They were light-weight yet warm. (See previous escapades of Black Ninja runner). If I layer up and use my nifty apparel, I can run comfortably outside as long as the temperature is not in single digits (F) or lower.

Even though I can run in an indoor running track inside a gym, or in a treadmill, nothing beats running outside in the open. To feel the sunshine on your face, breathe the chilly air, while winter birds cheer you on, is so liberating.

Here is the man-made lake that I usually pass over during my morning run. The water was frozen over. Should I try to run over it?

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Here is what it looks like during summer.

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I have not been running consistently for the past month or so, so I took my time in completing the 3 miles. After about 40 minutes, I came back home exhausted yet feeling fulfilled.

In keeping up with this trend of self-portrait photos, below is my selfie.

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As you can see I traded my Black Ninja look for a more colorful gear. Green Ninja? Oh, Ninja Turtle!

Because it was still cold, even after running for more than 30 minutes, I don’t think I even broke out a sweat, not until I went inside the house. The first 3-mile run of the New Year. No sweat at all!

Now my muscles hurt. Should I ice it? Or maybe I can just go outside to cool them.

Multiple Personalities

You have met the Black Ninja before. He is a fearless runner and is not afraid of rain, cold, or snow. But is scared of “black ice,” for he is not fond of slipping and sliding on icy road. He does not know how to use a samurai sword.

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Then you met the Lone…..ah….er….. the Wrong Ranger. He loves to take a hike and climb mountains. He does not have a horse, and does not know how to ride one. He’ll appear for a photo shoot, only to disappear in the shadows.

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And now, I introduce you to Lance (under)Armstrong. A cyclist wannabe. A slow rider. But is not afraid to get sweaty. The only thing that is “strong” is the “underarm.” He really needs to take his shower.

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What? Who are you calling Dr. Jekyll?

One-Handed Ninja

Black Ninja is hurt.

Friday morning last week, I started feeling some soreness in my right wrist. I did not pay much attention to it and performed my work as normal. However by the end of the day, the right hand became painful enough that I had difficulty using it. That night, my hand was swollen and red. The pain kept me awake, and not until I took an anti-inflammatory pill, did I experienced some relief.

I was miserable over the weekend due to the severe wrist pain. I was unable to type on the computer keyboard, nor play the piano, nor do much of anything (not even play the Fruit Ninja) with my right hand. And I am right-handed too. By the way, when I broke my arm when I was in kindergarten and had my arm in a cast for 6 weeks, I learned to use much of my left hand, including writing and drawing.

Back to my recent injury, the daily grooming ritual became painstakingly slow as well as painful – brushing my teeth, taking a bath, washing, combing my hair….. Oh I forgot, I have no hair to comb! And for traditional Filipinos who are not content with just using toilet paper but instead uses tabo (water dipper) and soap to wash after using the restroom, performing this “cultural” hygiene was almost impossible with one hand!

Doing things with one good hand, made me understand how we take for granted things that people with only one hand, or no hands, or with arthritic hands struggle every single day. I detested clothes with buttons! Good thing my wife assisted me to some extent, getting dressed.

My wife even urged to take me to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care (it was a weekend, so doctor’s offices were close), so a “real” doctor beside myself can evaluate my swollen hand. But being a stubborn patient, I reasoned: what can they do for me that I cannot diagnose and take care myself? I got a wrist splint from the pharmacy and continued my intake of ibuprofen.

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my splinted hand

Monday came and I went to work as usual. My rotation was the ICU, and also had a few bronchoscopy scheduled that day. When colleagues asked me what happened to my splinted hand, I told them that I sprained it sparring with Pacquiao. That will keep their distance. When patients asked me how did I injured my hand, I told them, I dealt with a patient who was not following my orders. That will keep them in line.

Then as the day went on, I surrendered to the fact that I was really having difficulty performing the bronchoscopy and other procedures I needed to do. I was humbled that I could hardly intubate (placing an endotracheal tube for breathing) a patient in an emergency situation. I need two healthy hands to do my work!

That’s when reality set in that I have to seek help. I showed my swollen wrist to one of our trauma surgeons in the ICU for a curbside consultation. He told me that it was not a simple carpal tunnel syndrome which I first thought it was, as that does not cause redness nor significant swelling. He thought it may be bursitis or tendonitis, but recommended that I see a hand surgeon, just to be sure.

I am now fully cognizant that I should not let this be a career-ending condition.

I called my office and requested to clear my schedule so I myself can see a doctor . When I called the hand surgeon’s office they initially told me that they can see me in 3 weeks. Three weeks?!! I “kindly” protested and told them that I am also a doctor, so they gave me a special consideration. I was given an appointment in 3 days.

In the meantime, as I waited to see the specialist, my hand started to get better. The redness improved, and the swelling went down. The pain had decreased as well, that I could use it more with less inconvenience.

By the time I saw the surgeon, my hand was almost back to normal, except for a minimal tenderness in one area. I even thought of canceling the appointment, but what the heck, I already cleared my schedule to have an afternoon off just for this.

After taking my history of what possibly could have precipitated my injury, and after examining my hand and taking hand x-rays, the surgeon diagnosed me with tendonitis. Worse scenario, he told me, that I might need a steroid injection in the wrist. But since it was already healing, he just advised to continue the wrist splint and anti-inflammatory meds, things that I have been doing all along. I sighed with relief, no surgery required!

The possible culprit of my injury? The push-ups. The hand surgeon told me that doing the open-palm push-ups can strain the wrists. Does this mean no more push-ups for me? No way! I can still do knuckle push-ups. Or better yet, use handle bars for this exercise.

As for wearing the hand splint, maybe I should get this kind…..

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Ninja hand claws

Black Ninja Runs Again

I woke up today and decided that I will run outside. It is the first day for Daylight Savings Time (DST) this year. That means, Spring is in the air!

I looked at the temperature gauge outside and it was a few degrees above freezing. The snow that has blanketed our surrounding for most of the winter has largely melted and what was left were small patches. You may say that it was still too cold to go outside, but hey, I was wearing my Black Ninja running gear. Ninjas are fearless and are not afraid of anything, not even frosty weather.

The sun was nowhere to be found, even though it was already 8 o’clock (DST), as dark clouds hang over the sky. In fact it was even drizzling. But since it was at least 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) that means the rain will not freeze over the ground, and I will not encounter Black Ice (see post about Black Ice here).

I was already running for about a mile, when I have noticed that my eyeglasses were fogging and fine precipitations were misting my vision. I also became aware of the gusty winds, and that the drizzle was getting stronger. But Ninjas are not afraid of the rain. Besides, I was too far out already to turn around, might as well press on.

As I continue to run, I started to enjoy the morning even though it was not a picture perfect day. I have also observed that the migratory birds were back.

Here are the ducks, geese and swans taking a leisurely swim in the cold foggy morning.

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I completed my run without any major snag, though I have taken off my glasses the rest  of the way. Ninjas don’t just rely on sight, they can feel their way with their keen sense of hearing, smell and “Ninja” sense.

Yes, I may be a little out of breath and may have a little muscle soreness after the run, but it just feels so good to be out again, and breathe the cool misty air.

The Black Ninja runner strikes again! Next on my running gear wish list: eyeglasses with wipers.

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Black Ninja runner

(*At the time of posting, the rain has turned into snow once again. Will the Black Ninja tread through snow? Until next time….)

Cool Running of the Black Ninja

Running is a simple sports. You don’t need a lot of equipment or gears. Just a good pair of running shoes and the endless road ahead of you. Well, not quite. Not if it is cold.

There is winter running apparel available in sports stores, that are light and yet warm. However, even with these gears, once the temperature is in single digits (Fahrenheit), or worse if it’s below zero, they don’t feel warm enough at all. And I am not recommending running with a parka on.

Of course one can run indoors in a gym. Although, running in a treadmill is so unnatural for me. It is really boring. If it is just a mile, well, I can bear it. More than that, I just feel like I’m running and not going anywhere at all. For that is exactly what it is!

There are also indoor running tracks, which fortunately the gym where I am a member has. One lap is 0.1 mile. Actually, this is where I usually run in the winter. Again, after running more than a mile or so, it feels dull and repetitive. It is like running in circles. Then again, because that is exactly what it is!

I still prefer to run outside. Feel the wind in my face. Breathe the crisp cold air. Enjoy the beautiful winterscapes. Run and really go somewhere, and not just in circles. As long as I don’t freeze to death.

Last Sunday morning, our temperature wandered above the freezing point. 33 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 Celsius) to be exact. I know it was still cold but I decided it was a good day to run outside.

My wife said that I was crazy. I admit, maybe  just a little bit. She even took pictures of my craziness.

heading out our walkway

I donned my cold weather running gear, complete with thermals, gloves and balaclava headgear, which I just call my Ninja mask. There  was snow on the ground but the road was plowed and cleared. No problems, so I thought.

Ninja runner. Where’s my sword?

When I stepped outside, it was foggy and even gently drizzling, but it was not too cold at all. However, I have not gone far when I noticed that something is not quite right. It was very slippery!

With the temperature right about the freezing point, the fine rain freezes when it hits the ground forming a very thin coat of glazed ice on the road surface. They usually call this “black ice,” as it is unnoticeable until you step on it or drive on it, thus making it very dangerous. If there is Black Ninja, there is also black ice. I was not prepared for ice running or should I say ice skating.

I had no choice but to turn back and return home disappointed. I may be a little crazy, but not crazy enough to risk myself slipping or falling and breaking a leg.

returning back already on our driveway without even breaking a sweat

I wondered, if there is winter tires for cars, maybe there is winter running shoes with ice and snow traction. As I googled it up, I found out that there really are. I must have one of those.

Or maybe I can even have Ninja spikes shoes so I can tramp black ice and can also scale walls and trees. Who said I’m crazy? Huh? Are you talking to me?