Redemption Race

It's not often that you would return to a very dark place. This post will end well, but you have to be patient for a few paragraphs to understand the last year for me.

For six of the last twelve months, I have been unable to run. One year ago, I crashed in a July race that could have killed me on the course and nearly finished the job in the hospital. This wasn't your every day crash. When I do things, I guess I go all out. I broke four ribs, collapsed a lung, separated a shoulder and tore a labrum in the same shoulder. I have a nice scar on my right rib cage where the garden hose was stuck between two ribs to drain the fluid out of my right collapsed lung. These ribs weren't cracked or bruised--three of the four were completely snapped. Think bread sticks snapped in two. One thing I did learn, is that ribs don't heal fast.

In the E.R.
As far as the dying part, I'm not exaggerating there. The race was on Saturday, and on Sunday night the nurses couldn't wake me. I was unresponsive with my blood oxygen level below 50 percent. I'm not a doctor but I understand that below eighty is bad--really bad. (see POST.)

I had three months after the crash where I couldn't do anything but walk and take a lot of pills. By the end of October, I was by all rights an "oxy" addict. Not by choice; I had no alternative as the pain was intolerable. Deciding to go "cold turkey" and get off the pills, I went three nights without sleep pacing the house "Lionel Richie style"--"All Night Long." This was the kind of stuff you see in the movies where someone is going through drug withdrawal. The pain was still there, but my desire to get ready for the Boston Marathon in April ('15) was greater. The first couple of training months were ugly filled with sluggish runs and a lot of self-doubt. At some point, I turned a corner and had an amazing long run 5-6 weeks out from Boston that had me convinced I was ready.

A month out from Boston, I tripped on a buckled section of sidewalk on a tempo run that had me tumble to the pavement hard. I awkwardly finished the run, and couldn't walk the next morning when I woke up. Like an "alpha male" dumbass, I proceeded to run 16 miles that day not wanting to miss out on a San Diego Harbor run. The back and hips loosened up a little, but it was an uncomfortable run along the beauty of the bay. The following weekend I was back in Denver, but my back and right hip started to seize up with the all the sitting on planes, trains, and automobiles it took to get back home. I had a twenty mile run scheduled that Saturday where again, I was sore before I started. By the end of the training run, my hip was killing me.
Broken ribs from triathlon crash

The month leading up to Boston was back and forth between trying to run, being sore, and taking extra rest days. The shake-out run two days before Boston, my hip still hurt, and I had no energy. A sore hip and four weeks of taper did me in and I was fortunate to be at the starting line of Boston and was a legitimate DNF candidate. I didn't want to disappoint my graduating high school son who traveled with me to see his dad run Boston for (his) first time.

I finally listened to my body and my wife and went in for an MRI shortly after that marathon. Hard to say if it was the bike accident, or the seemingly innocent trip on the sidewalk, but I was diagnosed with a torn labrum in my right hip--the same side as all my triathlon accident injuries. Once again, I relying on Steadman Hawkins in Denver for physical therapy on the hip. My ribs have improved a lot, but still hurt at night when I sleep on my right side. I found that I could run with a sore shoulder and sore ribs, but a sore hip had me grounded for the second time within twelve months. Doctors orders--no running. Hard advice to take for a runner, but once again I stuck to the plan.
Working on getting back to racing

The ortho surgeon discussed surgery as an option, but wanting to salvage the triathlon summer season and be able to run in the New York City Marathon which I finally qualified for, I decided to go with physical therapy. The results did not come as quickly surprisingly as the shoulder rehab. Slowly the hip, and glutes became stronger. I went in once a week to the clinic and had a daily routine of exercises I diligently followed. Without the progress I was looking for, I started getting Active Release Technique (ART) from Accelerate Health. Over the last 65 days, I've missed perhaps five days of work.(routine shown HERE.)

Where am I going with all this you're wondering--you're saying, "we've heard this all before." The news is that I got the "green light" to start running three weeks ago. I started with walking a half mile, and jogging the second half mile. I gradually increased the distance every other day as the doctor told me not to try and run back-to-back days yet. Last Sunday I ran outside for the first time since the Boston Marathon for seven miles, and on Tuesday, I had my first speed workout since early April.

I am nowhere near the PR and podium speed I'd built up before the Rocky Mountain State Games Triathlon I crashed in last year, but I signed up today to compete in the race this weekend that nearly killed me. I'd like to think that you can't keep a good man down. Wish me better results.

Comments

  1. Way to go! I wish you a safe (and fun) race this weekend!

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