Thursday, March 21, 2019

Swimmingly

Went swimming today for the first time since the injury.

It's amazing what low expectations will do for you, because 20 minutes of swimming felt downright magical. It's the first real exercise I've done in the last five weeks.

I'd love to get to the pool 4-5 days a week and build up to 45 minutes to an hour of swimming, but since I won't be able to drive for another month, that means relying on the wife or taking a cab both ways, at least for now. Not sure quite how reliable cabs are during the day in Salida or if that's even possible. And Uber and Lyft haven't made it out here just yet. 

I'm still crutching and in a boot, and I will be for another five weeks. But even after I'm walking and jogging I expect to be spending a lot of time at the pool the next three to five months. I prefer swimming to ellipticals or stationary bikes, and, well, I couldn't do those yet even if I wanted to.

I'm able to take the boot off at night and when I'm in the water now, and I'm not going to lie, the leg still don't look right. The pain has subsided considerably, but thoughts of running are still a long ways off. First, swimming. Then, walking.

Patience, grasshopper. Life's all about patience right now.

Regardless, being able to get into the water was a big spirit-lifter and gets me excited about the process of recovery. There's a long road ahead, but I'm glad that I'm finally taking the first steps in that direction. Figuratively if not yet literally.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Surgery Update

After my initial diagnosis, I had planned to get surgery in Salida.

But after having a day or two to think through things, I put feelers out to doctor friends around the state, described my injuries, and asked them, if it were you, where would you go for surgery? 

The answer was universally the same. Everyone said I should go to the Steadman Clinic in Vail. 

I reached out to Steadman, was able to connect with a foot & ankle specialist right away, and put myself on the calendar for surgery this Wednesday. 

I made my expectations clear: I told them I had about 50,000 miles of running on my legs and that, if it were all possible, I'd love to do another 50,000 miles more.

After looking at my X-rays, and discussing my long-term goals, the surgeon recommended I get two surgeries, rather than just one. An initial surgery to put two screw into my lower leg to fixate the bones to put them where they should be and then a second minor surgery in three months to remove the screws. 

Initially, I had hoped to avoid surgery altogether. Now I had two surgeries ahead of me. Not ideal. That said, if it means I don't have metal in my legs the rest of my life, and if it means a better long-term prognosis, I'm willing to do what it takes.

So that's what's happening. 

I had my first surgery on Wednesday. The clinic came highly recommended, but the quality of service and treatment at the clinic still exceeded all expectations. From the nurses, to the PAs, to the anesthesiologist, to the surgeon himself, I was just blown away by their seriousness and professionalism. It was all very reassuring. I'm very confident I got the best treatment possible. And the surgeon seems optimistic that a full and complete recovery is on the horizon. 

Back at home now and things are fine. 

I might actually try to do this one of these days, just to keep from going stir crazy.


I'll see if I can hop my way to the finish line over at Run Through Time next Saturday. Perhaps I'll see
some of you there.

Best of luck to all and stay safe. There will be snow and ice on the course this year.

Update: Just heard from the RD that there are going to be re-routes on both courses to minimize snow and ice exposure. Definitely the right call.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Quick update

I went to the local ortho PA today, and he said I have a displaced Maissonneuve fracture. Big break in the fibula below the knee, a slight break in the tibia with no displacement near the ankle, and then some displacement in the ankle.

Surgery likely next Wednesday. Fortunately, we have a highly reputed orthopedic surgeon here, so I'll hopefully be in good hands.

They suspect I'll be jogging again by Memorial Day, if all goes well.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Moab Red Hot 33k/DNF-broken leg


Other than an ill-advised attempt at the 300m hurdles my sophomore year of high school, I have never DNF’d a race.

That is, until today.

Woke up this morning to a slight dusting of snow in Moab. Didn’t figure it would be a big deal, since I’ve been running in snow and ice all year. Famous last words, I guess.

Started off the race conservatively, with a first uphill mile in 8:34, followed by steady flattish miles in some mud in 6:51, 6:48, and 6:57, keeping my heart rate around 150, as planned. We then worked our way up gold bar rim trail, where there were pockets of ice. Got a little lost a few times, as I am wont to do, but I was running conservatively, and I felt strong as we hit the high point of the race, which was at mile 8.

Had a mini-snickers bar at the aid station, had a nice quick chat with the volunteers, and then tucked in behind another guy who looked like he might have been a masters runner. 

(Warning: stop reading here if you're squeamish)

I consciously decided to run slowly in this section because of the ice.

As I was following in behind the guy, I came upon a three-foot drop kind of suddenly. There are lots of these on this course, so no big deal, right? I tried to hop down. Unfortunately, I was on black ice, and I completely lost control. I fell the three feet on to my right leg at a really rough angle. My ankle turned all the way to four o’clock (use your imagination), and I heard something snap.

It was like watching one of those gruesome basketball injuries, except it was my own leg.

Anyway, I let out what I’m sure was a very masculine-sounding whelp or two. I told the runners around me that I thought my ankle was broken.

An aid volunteer and a very nice runner helped me to limp back to the aid on my good foot. From there, they debated what to do. After about a half an hour, the decision was made to drive me down in a jeep. Only problem is that this was one of the least drivable places (where is it still possible to drive at all), and my leg was ruined. On a scale of 1 to 10, the pain was a 9.8. 

So another agonizing hour on a jeep tour by Richard (thanks, Richard!) to the trailhead, followed by thirty minutes with search and rescue (thanks, Tom!), followed by a 20-minute trip to the hospital (thanks, wife!).

About two and a half hours after I fell, I was at the hospital getting an x-ray: Spiral fracture of the fibula and they said my ankle was “disturbed.” The force of the twisting of my ankle caused my fibula to break just below the knee, it turns out. Other than a broken index finger and a stress fracture my freshman year of college, this is the first broken bone I've ever had. 

I asked them what it meant that my ankle was “disturbed,” and they said I should talk to my orthopedist about it. They said it wasn’t super clear from the x-ray, but they suspect I’ll need surgery to stabilize my ankle.





I’m in a half cast for now, and I’ll have to visit the orthopedist next week.

Who knows when I’ll be walking normally again, much less running.

The last few months, my fitness had been strong—better than it had been since I was 19, and now, well, I’m going to have to take a long break. Maybe I’ll be able to swim or something when I get a full cast. But, at the moment, two months on crutches sounds like a best-case scenario. 

On the scale of life’s hardships, this one is minor. I still consider myself very fortunate and am thankful it wasn’t any worse. I hurt myself right next to the aid station. That was very fortunate. Many people rearranged their races, days, and their energies to take care of me. I’m thankful to them all. Generosity and kindness came to me from lots of directions. Now that I'm just sitting on the hotel bed, the pain isn't too bad. 

I suppose I’ll just have to focus my attention on other things the next few months.

If I can be jogging again by summer, I’ll be thrilled. If I can be racing again by this time next year, great.

That said, after this, I don’t think I’ll ever do another winter trail race in icy conditions. I might be done with those kinds of races for good.


Monday, February 11, 2019

2/4-2/10

Feb 4
5 miles easy w/ 6 maximal hill sprints, CR 250. Felt super sluggish until I did the hill sprints. Way better after.

Feb 5
10k race pace intervals, 2k, 1k, 2k, 1k, 2k, 1k, 1k on 2 minutes rest on CRs 160 & 165

Big wind out of the south. Was hoping to average 6:00 on the ks and 6:10 on the 2ks. Ended up w/ 6:05 on the ks and about 6:12 on the 2ks. Have minor ambitions to break 37 in the 10k this year, and this workout shows I’m nowhere close yet (at least not in these conditions).

Hard effort

9.82 miles total

Feb 6
4.6 miles easy in 45 minutes on the mill

Feb 7
Easy speed, 4.5 miles easy, w/ 6 x 200 by feel. 200s were near max effort but with full rest. Did some quick plyos before. Another brutally windy day (cross wind on the 200s), so no watch.

Feb 8 
Ski but no run

Feb 9 
Prog run on CR 220. Started at 8-minute pace and worked my way down to 6:18 pace, between 7750 ft. and 8400 ft.

Big wind out of the south again, which was mostly a cross wind, but somewhat of a head wind those last few miles.
.
Last five miles in 6:56, 6:49, 6:40, 6:29, and 6:18. Definitely pushing the top end of my LT threshold on hills and the last few miles.

Didn’t feel any pain during the run, but I’ve felt some knee strain after the run. Hopefully it’s nothing a couple of (very) easy days won’t take care of.

Hard effort. Feeling pretty worked after this one.

12.54 total

Feb 10
4.7 mile jog w/ the Chaffee County Run Club. Super easy and the knee felt fine. Arkansas Hills are still treacherous in the shady spots.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Why is US road racing so non-competitive these days?

Was checking out the results of this 10-mile race in Ireland (h/t GZ’s feed). It’s a race on a scenic stretch of asphalt path in Southern Ireland. I know the course well, because it goes by the house where my mom was raised.

What got my attention, other than the location, was how fast the times were across the board. The winner ran 49:35, 87 runners went sub-60, the first 222 went under 65, 434 went under 70, and the median runner (1200 out of 2400) ran 82 minutes and change!

Dungarvan, the town where the race was held, has a population of about 10,000 people, by the way.

Kind of crazy to see the depth and competition of Irish racing compared to road racing here. With the possible exception of the Bolder Boulder, which has at least 20 times as many runners overall, I’m fairly certain there is no road race with anything resembling that kind of depth in Colorado. And if you really compare apples to apples, as in percentile finishers up and down the field, I’m fairly certain no race in Colorado comes anything close.

To cherry-pick one example, there was a 10-mile that happened in Denver a week ago called the Frosty's Frozen Five & Ten. 243 people finished the race.

The winner ran 54 minutes and change, 3 runners ran sub 60, 10 ran sub 65 22 ran sub 70, and the median runner, (122 out of 243) ran 93 minutes.

Not to criticize any individual competitor, but as a whole, this is just so much less competitive than the race in Ireland. And it’s not just this race; I honestly don’t know of any race in the US that would feature such robust depth from the 99th-percentile on down the line as was run in that race in Ireland. Maybe the Carlsbad 5000 or something, but that’s an internationally-renown event. I think the John Treacy Dungarvan 10-mile is just a local race.

Not sure what phenomena are leading to the complete divergence in road racing standards here vs. there, but it definitely seems like a thing.

The one thing that does seem obviously different to me is the club system. Clearly, over there, local clubs are training runners and competing against each other in road races and in XC. That ain’t happening here. We're a bunch of lone wolves.

Anything else I’m missing? Is this just Irish genetic superiority or something more complex?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

1/28-2/3


Jan 28
Slept for ten hours last night and woke up with a sore throat.

The 4 x 200 on Friday made me more sore than the 17 hard miles yesterday. Funny how 2 minutes of hard running done just right can sometimes impact the body more than two hours of hard running.

5 miles easy on CR 250. Road is still a sheet of ice above 8000 ft.

Jan 29
5 miles easy on CR 140 w/ 6 maximal hill strides 

Jan 30
8 x 1k at 98% of goal 10k pace w/ two minutes rest on CRs 160 & 165 – 5:54 pace average for the first four and then my watch died again. My Garmin appears to be a lemon. Suspect my pace for the set was closer to 6 flat, but that’s just a guess.

Definitely felt some lactate building up on the last few.

Moderate hard effort. 

Jan 31
Day off, ski

Feb 1
There are supposed to be gale-force winds all weekend, so I decided to skip ahead and do my final long run prep for Moab today. Took a half day off work to get it in.

Went over to the Arkansas Hills trails, which I had hoped would be clear by now. They weren’t. Snow and ice and mud all over. Start was slow. After 4 miles of slipping and sliding, I decided to duck over to the Ute Trail, which is really a dirt road (used to be part of the Run Through Time course). The road goes up from 7100 to 8800 feet over five miles. Definitely some icy sections, but mostly runnable.

I turned around at 10.5 miles, at 8800 ft. Then pushed the next five miles in under 34 minutes down the hill, then did the Spiral Drive course for one final 500 ft climb and then back to the car.

Total of 18.51 miles, 2:40, with just shy of 3500 ft of elevation gain.

Hard effort. Not sure what this will translate to at Moab, but I’m reasonably confident if I pace myself that I can put in a sustained effort for 20 miles.

Feb 2
Windy and busy day with friends. 4.6 miles super easy on treadmill in 45 minutes

Feb 3
4.64 miles in 55:30 w/ the CCRC along the Arkansas river toward Rio Grande King. Super duper easy. 

I was actually elected to the Chaffee County Running Club board this week, which is a neat honor. Will be fun getting more involved in the local community, especially since I’m a relative newcomer to town.  

Put my name in for the Canyon de Chelly 55k lottery on Friday. Learned I was number 214 on the waitlist today. Definitely bummed I didn't get in. That makes me 0 for 3 in race lotteries. 

Any ideas for good long October races (20 miles or more)?