I’m into fitness, take 19: Nice shoes, wanna run?

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On the left, plantar fasciitis. On the right, a shin splint.

Long time, no blog. Six weeks, to be exact, since my last fitness blog. Some of you were probably wondering if I’m off the wagon, indulging in fast food and setting up shop on our luxurious, albeit scratched-to-hell-by-our-cats couch.

The good news: I haven’t quit. I’m still plugging away on this “journey” from morbid obesity to optimal-weight bliss.

The bad news: Since my last blog, I’ve been fighting through injuries. One of those resulted in a two-week running ban. Those were two long weeks.

TO HEEL WITH THIS …

I suffered my first injury last September after a summer of running three miles in god-awful heat. The 100-plus degree temperatures didn’t get me … my shoes did.

Wearing my shoes well past their “expiration” date resulted in a painful case of plantar fasciitis. Over the next five months, walking was occasionally a struggle when I crawled out of bed in the morning. The first quarter-mile of my runs consistently sucked.

TOO MUCH IS TOO MUCH …

I pressed on, finally swapping out my old shoes for a pair I received for Christmas. I figured the new shoes would be fine, even though several people told me to buy a fitted pair.

The Christmas shoes were a little tight, never comfortable, but I kept running anyway, pushing myself to between five and six miles a day, with the occasional seven- or eight-mile run thrown in.

In mid-February, I set a goal or running 40 miles in a week. I got to 37. The next week, it was going to be 40 miles, no matter what.

Two weeks without running was a great lesson. Now, I ice and stretch my shins every day.

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES …

I noticed a tingle in the front of my right leg about four miles into a six-mile run three days into my hell-or-high-water 40-mile week, but I pressed on and got to six miles. I felt terrible. My legs ached. If felt like somebody was stabbing me in the left heel.

Naturally, 24 hours later, I was on the treadmill again, wearing my tight, uncomfortable shoes. About three miles in, I felt a sharp pain in my shin. Most people stop. I did not. I kept going, for another painful mile.

I barely made it back to my desk at work. The next day, I walked with a limp.

MOM, DAD: I HAVE SHIN SPLINTS …

I actually did try to jog the following day, shin splint and all. That lasted about three minutes. I limped for the next several days, no running.

The next two weeks consisted of a steady diet of elliptical machine, rowing machine, Tae Bo and weights. It wasn’t the workout or sweat I got running, but it kept me sane.

In the meantime, I finally broke down and bought fitted shoes. By the time I settled back into a running routine, in early March, I’d jogged one time in 16 days.

INSANE IN THE BRAIN (OR LEGS) …

I remember asking Shana right after the shin splint if she’d still love me if I couldn’t run for several months and got back up to 230 pounds (still 80 pounds from my highest weight).

I was more or less freaking out about not being able to run. In other words, I don’t hate running. I actually love it.

In the three weeks since getting back on track, I’m averaging about 25 miles a week. And, yes, it is the shoes.

106 pounds down, 16 to go.

CLOSING IN …

So, has there been progress? Absolutely. At the time of my late fitness blog, I weighed 208 pounds. Earlier this week, I checked in at 204.2. That’s five pounds shy of the high end of my optimal weight (188 to 199 pounds).

My heel, though sometimes painful, feels better, and the shin splint hasn’t hurt since I bought fitted shoes. I might as well go for 188 pounds. That’s about 16 more pounds. One-hundred-and-six pounds down, 16 to go.

It’s been a long journey. It’s also been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m proof anybody can do this if you want it badly enough. If I can do it, anybody can.

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Move on. Ever hear of that, Wildcats?

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Frank Martin is taking his act, a highly entertaining one, to Columbia, South Carolina.

If you’ve read this blog, you know I make fun of everybody. Myself, friends, family, teams (even my own) and, of course, Kansas fans.

Among the entries on this blog have been several about coaching searches and hires. Despite offering some damn good advice, Kansas passed on Bobbie “The Brain” Heenan to replace Turner Gill and Missouri opted not to offer Jesus a deal once Matt Painter worked the Tigers over for a massive raise.

But I’m going to pass on belittling Kansas State today. I’m not going to say Joe Pesci should replace Frank Martin. Why? Because I genuinely feel bad for the Wildcats. I mean, their coach, the same man who preached loyalty and called Missouri “whiners” for going to the SEC, is going to South Carolina … in the SEC.

Roy left nine years ago and this is still circulating? Don't resort to this, Cats.

MOVE ON …

Relax, Wildcats. Coaches do this. It’s who they are. In all the years I covered coaches in the newspaper business, I trusted them to be honest about a lot of things. Their job prospects weren’t on that list. If they have a chance to take what they perceive to be a better job, they’re gone.

You’re mad. You’re stunned. You’re hurt. You’re worried. I get it. But don’t act like Kansas fans when Roy went home for a better gig. No crying. No anger. No hating the man 10 years later.

What does Beyonce have to do with this blog? Beyond a comparison, not much, but it does improve the view.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN …

Days after Mike Anderson led Missouri to its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, he bolted for Arkansas. The timing was terrible. The Tigers had fallen apart down the stretch. Some were happy he left. Some were devastated. Some were pissed because the options at that point were underwhelming.

And when Painter opted to stay for Purdue (I’d argue he never planned on leaving), Missouri was in a world of hurt. Plan B (perhaps Plan Z) turned out to be Frank Haith, a hiring that floored Tiger fans. It was like taking Beyonce to the dance and coming home with Courtney Love.

A year after being deemed a disaster of a hire, Frank Haith won national coach of the year awards.

HOW’D THAT WORK OUT?

A year later, the Haith hire looks like the work of a genius. Despite losing its second best player in the preseason, Missouri won 30 games and the Big 12 Tournament championship. The Tigers were a play (or a couple of ridiculous Allen Field House calls) away from winning the regular-season title.

Haith could run for governor and win.

Think Will Spradling is going to miss this?

THE POINT …

Let’s see who John Currie hires to replace Frank Martin before we barbecue the guy. There are reports that at least one player was going to bolt if Martin stayed. Based on his comments about paying high school players, would it be that surprising if Jamar Samuels received more than a few hundred bucks? Or that other players received impermissible benefits?

It’s possible Kansas State ends up with a better coach. And if it’s not a big splash hire, give the new guy a chance. If Faith in Haith worked at Mizzou, a similar hire can work at K-State.

Breaking the Dance Down: NCAA Tournament, Day 1

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The Rams made the Final Four last season, so a run this season shouldn't be a shocker.

Quick hits from the opening day of the NCAA Tournament …

NO NEED TO BE UPSET: Talk about your ho-hum opening acts. Even the “upsets” weren’t that surprising, though I did expect more out of fifth-seeded Wichita State.

LOOKIN’ GREAT IN THE SOUTH: Shame on me for doubting Shaka Smart and VCU. Good coach, veteran team. Should have known better than to pick the Shockers.

LOOKIN’ GOOD IN THE SOUTH: Iowa State. Maybe the Big 12 isn’t so bad after all.

LOOKIN’ BAD IN THE SOUTH: A lot of people had Wichita State as a sleeper. Those people probably aren’t winning their pool.

LOOKIN’ GREAT IN THE WEST: We see you, Marquette.

LOOKIN’ GOOD IN THE WEST: Louisville controlled its game against a solid Davidson team that knocked off Kansas at the Sprint Center.

LOOKIN’ BAD IN THE WEST: Really, Long Beach State? Too much drama in the LBC.

LOOKIN’ GREAT IN THE EAST: The Vanderbilt-Wisconsin winner goes to the Elite Eight.

LOOKIN’ GOOD IN THE EAST: Ohio State thanks Fab Melo for not doing his homework.

LOOKIN’ BAD IN THE EAST: Yikes, Syracuse. It’s called karma.

WE MISS YOU, GUS: Gus Johnson has a reputation for not doing his homework. It’s one of the reasons he’s not working the NCAA Tournament for CBS. The network screwed up here. Johnson’s screaming and excitability was made for the tourney.

HOW AM I DOING?: Meh. Eleven of 16 on the opening day is not going to win many brackets. Thanks a lot, Wichita State and Long Beach State (Sweet 16 picks).

NCAA Tournament picks: The entertainment edition

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It was a chilly March day in 1987. I remember jumping off the school bus and running inside to check on the Missouri score. As I opened the door, I noticed my dad turning off the TV …

“How’d they do, Dad?” I asked.

“Not good, son. They lost to Xavier,” he said.

“Who?” I asked, beginning to tear up.

“Xavier. It’s a small school in Ohio,” he said.

I remember crying for several minutes. That was my first experience with the NCAA Tournament, as a disappointed 10-year-old whose team wasn’t going to make a run to the Final Four.

Twenty-five years later, the Tigers still haven’t made a run to the Final Four. They’ve been close a few times (Elite Eights in 1994, 2002 and 2009). More often than not, they’ve disappointed or had their hearts broken (Tyus Edney’s mad dash in 1995, Maurice Newby’s 25-footer footer in 1990).

That explains why, in a season filled with promise and a team loaded with moxie, that it makes me cringe when the experts at ESPN, Yahoo!, Sporting News and CBS pick Missouri to reach its first Final Four.

Hell, I even put Missouri in New Orléans on my brackets. It’s the first time in 20 years it actually makes sense.

Who else do I have in the Final Four? Kentucky, Ohio State and North Carolina.

Here are my first-round picks, done in the pop culture/hodgepodge/pure nonsense format many of you (OK, about seven of you) enjoyed in the good old days of 2011:

SOUTH REGION (MUSIC/COMEDY REGION)

KENTUCKY: Like AC/DC, Kentucky is the biggest badass of them all and the prohibitive favorite to win the national title.

WESTERN KENTUCKY: Not that the Hilltoppers sucks as much as the Backstreet Boys. Hell, let’s be honest, they’re 16-18. They suck.

WINNER: Kentucky, by 200.

IOWA STATE: Just as Patton Oswalt hasn’t been funny for a long time (maybe ever), the Cyclones haven’t played well of late.

UCONN: Much like Chris Brown, I expect the Huskies to beat the tar out of the Clones.

WINNER: Connecticut.

WICHITA STATE: As Kansas said, VCU will be dust in the wind.

VIRGINIA COMMOMWEALTH: Shaka Smart has to be related to Shock G from Digital Underground.

WINNER: Wichita State.

INDIANA: John Cougar Mellencamp is from Indiana, which was “Crumblin’ Down” before Tom Crean arrived.

NEW MEXICO STATE: Stretching it here, but the pickins are slim in New Mexico, home state of Neil Patrick Harris, star of two comedy series.

WINNER: Indiana.

UNLV: Could it be anybody other than Vegas legend Wayne Newton?

COLORADO: John Denver and his “Rocky Mountain High” still plays on those 3 a.m. infomercials, though in this game Colorado will resemble John Denver the pilot.

WINNER: UNLV.

BAYLOR: If you’ve read this blog, you know I’m a huge fan of Scott Drew, who reminds me of Jeff Dunham, the overrated hack comic (also a Baylor grad).

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: Dunham is to Baylor what George Lopez is to comedy, even worse. Painfully unfunny man.

WINNER: Baylor.

NOTRE DAME: Think Joe Pesci the rapper, not the actor.

XAVIER: Think Robert Romanus, as in Mike Damone from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Romanus is a former Muskateer.

WINNER: Xavier.

DUKE: Never has a coach looked more like Remy from “Ratatouille.”

LEHIGH: Again, slim pickins, as in Ralph Malph from “Happy Days.” Don Most, who portrayed Ralph, attended Lehigh. Like I said, slim pickins.

WINNER: Duke.

REGION’S SWEET 16 TEAMS: Kentucky, Wichita State, Baylor and Duke.

REGIONAL FINAL: Kentucky over Duke.

WEST REGION (MOVIE REGION)

MICHIGAN STATE: Tom Izzo is “The Godfather.”

LIU-BROOKLYN: The Blackbirds are Khartoum (the horse).

WINNER: Michigan State.

MEMPHIS: This isn’t the slick Elvis-like Memphis of the mid- to late 2000s. More like the Fat Elvis of the mid- to late 1970s.

ST. LOUIS: If there’s ever a movie about Rick Majerus, it’s too bad John Candy’s not around to play the role.

WINNER: St. Louis.

NEW MEXICO: We haven’t heard much from native Demi Moore, much like we won’t hear much from the Lobos in this tournament.

LONG BEACH STATE: Think Snoop Dogg the actor. Even as an actor, Snoop is bad-ass.

WINNER: The LBC (er S).

LOUISVILLE: Speaking of “The Godfather,” Rick Pitino reminds me of the quick-tempered and unfaithful Sonny Corleone.

DAVIDSON: Alumnae Laeta Kalogridis was a producer for the movie “Avatar,” which I haven’t seen and don’t plan to any time soon.

WINNER: Louisville

MURRAY STATE: The national media’s darling story, just like “Hoosiers.”

COLORADO STATE: The Rams are a little like the Wolverines from “Red Dawn,” which as filmed in Colorado. Things didn’t work out all that great for the Wolverines.

WINNER: Murray State

MARQUETTE: Buzz Williams really should get a casting call as Curly from The Three Stooges.

BYU: Alumnus Aaron Eckhart was Harvey Dent in “The Dark Knight.” Seems fitting, considering his team was two-faced on its play-in game (down 25 in the first half, ended up winning).

WINNER: Marquette.

FLORIDA: Billy Donovan is Joe Pesci, the actor.

VIRGINIA: Think Count of Monte Christo, back essentially from the dead.

WINNER: Florida

MISSOURI: Counted out so many times, especially this year, but making a comeback, like Mickey Rourke.

NORFOLK STATE: The Necro Butcher, who Rourke destroys in “The Wrestler.”

WINNER: Missouri.

REGION’S SWEET 16 TEAMS: Michigan State, Long Beach State, Marquette and Missouri.

ELITE EIGHT: Missouri over Michigan State.

EAST REGION (PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING REGION)

SYRACUSE: Take your pick of any who have had a drug problem, or about 95 percent of wrestlers.

NORTH CAROLINA-ASHEVILLE: For this matchup, the Gobbledy Gooker, one of the worst wrestling gimmicks of all time, seems fitting.

WINNER: Syracuse.

KANSAS STATE: Not that the Wildcats are a giant, but they play like Andre the Giant – brutally physical.

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: Larry Eustachy is the Jake “The Snake” Roberts of college coaching, theatrics included.

WINNER: Kansas State.

VANDERBILT: “Superstar” Billy Graham never lived up to the hype, much like the Commodores.

HARVARD: The Genius, who happens to be The Macho Man Randy Savage’s brother, has little chance in this matchup.

WINNER: Vanderbilt.

WISCONSIN: The Badgers are to basketball what Hulk Hogan is to the technical side of wrestling – painful to watch, yet effective.

MONTANA: Virgil, or any other wrestler who had no chance against Hulk Hogan.

WINNER: Wisconsin.

CINCINNATI: The late, great Macho Man, who made a solid comeback in the WCW, much like the Bearcats did after their brawl with Xavier.

TEXAS: Terry Funk never won the big one, at least in a legitimate promotion, but he was always there, as Texas has been under Rick Barnes.

WINNER: Cincinnati.

FLORIDA STATE: John Cena is one of the most overhyped, overrated wrestlers of all-time. The Seminoles strike me as wildly overvalued in this tournament.

ST. BONAVENTURE: The Miz. I have nothing against St. Bonaventure … just looking for a crap wrestler who is even worse than Cena.

WINNER: Florida State.

GONZAGA: Like Dusty Rhodes, the Zags will be facing hard times early.

WEST VIRGINIA: Ric Flair. Greatest wrestler of all time. But he’s still wrestling. At age 150. And it isn’t pretty, much like the Mountaineers over the last month.

WINNER: West Virginia

OHIO STATE: Triple H. Still a force to be reckoned with.

LOYOLA, MD.: Adrian Adonis. They have no chance.

WINNER: Ohio State.

REGION’S SWEET 16 TEAMS: Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Florida State and Ohio State.

MIDWEST REGION (TV REGION)

NORTH CAROLINA: Roy Williams = Andy Griffith and his “aw shucks” shtick.

VERMONT: “Cop Rock,” which was on TV about as long as Vermont will be this week.

WINNER: North Carolina.

CREIGHTON: The McDermotts have a relationship like “The Beav” and his old man did.

ALABAMA: “Cops.” The Tide has had its share of disciplinary issues.

WINNER: Creighton.

TEMPLE: The next-to-last season of “The Sopranos.” Solid and entertaining.

SOUTH FLORIDA: The last season of “The Sopranos.” Overhyped.

WINNER: Temple.

MICHIGAN: “The Wonder Years.” Mostly because it’s one of my all-time favorites. Good show, good team.

OHIO: “Family Ties.” Simply not as good as Michigan, like “Family Ties” isn’t as good as “The Wonder Years.”

WINNER: Michigan.

SAN DIEGO STATE: “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Both are surprisingly good.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE: Same era, completely different impact. In other words, it sucked.

WINNER: San Diego State.

GEORGETOWN: “Transformers.” Very good cartoon, very good team.

BELMONT: “Smurfs.” Georgetown isn’t exactly Gargamel.

WINNER: Georgetown.

SAINT MARY’S: Butthead. The better of the teenage idiots.

PURDUE: Beavis. The worse of the teenage idiots.

WINNER: Saint Mary’s.

KANSAS: “Family Guy.” If you’ve read this blog, you know of my disdain for the show.

DETROIT: “Pokemon.” Few animated shows are worse than “Family Guy.” This is one of them.

WINNER: Kansas.

REGION’S SWEET 16 TEAMS: North Carolina, Michigan, Georgetown and Kansas.

ELITE EIGHT: North Carolina over Kansas.

FINAL FOUR: Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio State and North Carolina.

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Kentucky over North Carolina.

Big 12 rankings, Week 12: On to KC

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1. kansas (26-5, 16-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma State, Texas | THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Texas A&M-Oklahoma winner

THE RUB: The Jayhawks moved closer to a No. 1 seed, but a loss to Missouri in the conference tournament final could mean a trip out West.

2. Missouri (27-4, 14-4) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State, Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Oklahoma State-Texas Tech winner

THE RUB: The Tigers were sluggish at times against Iowa State, which probably had a lot to do with the disappointing loss to their archrival four days before.

3. Iowa State (22-9, 12-6) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri, defeated Baylor | THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Texas

THE RUB: The darkhorse to win the conference tournament.

4. Baylor (25-6, 12-6) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, lost to Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Kansas State

THE RUB: A loss to Kansas State in the first round Thursday wouldn’t be much of a shocker.

5. Kansas State (21-9, 10-8) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas A&M, Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Baylor

THE RUB: Another dangerous team that could make a run at the Sprint Center.

6. Texas (19-12, 9-9) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma, lost to Kansas | THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Iowa State

THE RUB: The Longhorns need to spring an upset Thursday to make the NCAA Tournament.

7. Oklahoma State (14-17, 7-11) | LAST WEEK: Lost to kansas, Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Texas Tech

THE RUB: Minus LeBryan Nash, a loss to Texas Tech wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

8. Oklahoma (15-15, 5-13) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas, defeated Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Texas A&M

THE RUB: Can’t wait for the rematch of Saturday’s epic showdown.

9. Texas A&M (13-17, 4-14) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State, Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma

THE RUB: Picked to win the conference, the Aggies ended up 10 games under .500 in league play.

10. Texas Tech (8-22, 1-17) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor, Missouri | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma State

THE RUB: The Red Raiders gave up 12 3-pointers in the second half of Saturday’s loss to Missouri.