Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Delayed Dream

I can't seem to catch a break when it comes to bad breaks. If you follow my twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you know by now that for the first time I will have to withdraw from a marathon due to injury. The foot pain that I was in partial denial over did not dissipate despite all the crazy "witch doctor" treatments I've tried over the last two weeks. All this over brushing my teeth (confused? Read my last POST) in Cairo. Blame it on Cairo, or more aptly, blame it on my stupidity or overdose of "alpha male" testosterone, I have a stress fracture in the 5th metatarsal of my left foot, and I have the sexy Frankenstein boot to prove it.

The results from Steadman Hawkins MRI came from Dr. Jeremy Saturday morning. Eight days before I was scheduled to race in the New York City Marathon for the first time. The Dr. instructed me to get into a boot right away and (obviously) warned against any running as this could lead to further complications that would require surgery.

While I should have bailed on the Boston Marathon this year, this is new territory for me (not entering a marathon I'd trained for;) including the decision; "do I still go to New York City" with all the travel plans set long ago. I took to a social media (unscientific) poll and asked my run peeps, (and my wife,) do we still go to New York City and try and make wine out of vinegar, or bail? I got a variety of great responses including;

"Buy your wife a designer purse with the exchanged tickets or money not spent in New York." (While my wife liked this one, I wasn't sure how it would help cope with my depression.

(My daughter,) "Party in NYC dad come on now!"

"Go man!!! You've earned it!!!"

"I'd cash in the ticket for a beach seat and let the sand and salt water heal those toes."

While a couple suggested staying at home or away from the race, the overwhelming response was, Go!  My wife and I went "back and forth" with the options, and while she's scared to deal with my emotions over not running while being around the race, we're going for it! I guess I am back to being in  New York State of Mind.

One of the reasons is that when I went to Boston this year, I knew I was in for a tough race (with an yet to be diagnosed torn hip labrum) and really didn't soak in the full marathon experience. That was the right choice in some respects as I spent high quality time with my high school graduating son, but avoided a lot of the typical meetups I would have done if healthy (and with the right demeanor.)

This injury does not take away all the hard work I've put in since May to rehabilitate my torn right hip labrum as part of my 2014-15 "Injury Tour." New York City and the stress fracture will hopefully be the last leg (pun intended) of that tour. For those old enough to remember, or young enough to Google, this tour rivals Evel Knievel's glory days on the motorcycle. My injuries include four broken ribs, collapsed lung, separated shoulder, torn shoulder labrum, torn hip labrum, and now foot stress fracture...all in fifteen months. Perhaps I need a break (pun not intended.)

When Dr. Jeremy called Saturday morning, he told me to come into their offices first thing Monday morning to discuss the results in greater detail and get a walking boot. I did not want my rehab "clock" to start on Monday, so we found a hospital supply place open on Saturday near my house and began the immobilization and healing process. As a result, I now only have 38 days in the boot versus staring at six weeks. The former seems like so much less time. The boot is fairly comfortable, but it makes my left leg a couple inches longer than my right. This has played funny games with my lower back and hips as I walk a bit contorted.

Anyway, enough of that sad, boring crap. With a long weekend in New York City, the encouraging and glass half full aspects of this weekend?

Packing was much easier as my run gear (and various weather options) remained at home. I did pack for the gym.

The advantage of packing in my situation is that I only need to pack 1/2 my shoes as I don't need any left ones. See...things are looking brighter already.

I've been in touch with a few of the blogger heavyweights and plan to join some meetups to cheer on my peeps and take in the revelry. Just no shake-out run this year.

Our hotel is world class! We're staying at the famous Essex House that sits right on Central Park. While half my life seems like it's in a hotel room at a Marriott Courtyard, I love an opulent hotel stay (as does wifie.)
View from the Essex House

The most important night of sleep before a marathon is two nights before (Friday) since you don't typically sleep on Saturday night mentally pouring over the race the following morning. Not a problem this year as I'll be partying with the New does happen to be Halloween on Saturday night. While you're sleeping, I'll be getting my party on.

And lastly, you tell me! If you've been to New York City or you haven't, but always wanted to go, you can live vicariously though me. Where should I go, and what should we do? I will do it and blog, and selfie my way through the weekend. I've been to "ground zero" before with my wife and daughter, but that was before the museum opened. So, that's a candidate event. Let me know what you'd do if you had three days in the city, and let me know if you're in New York City for the race, you can sign my boot and get a sticker.

And lastly, is it bad that I've layed in bed at night and wondered, if I could rent one of those one leg scooters and walk the marathon on my one good leg?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Foot Fault: NYC Marathon Update

Feels like deja vu all over again. It's now less than two weeks to redemption race number three at the New York City Marathon, and the "I" word which should be a four letter word (it's actually six) has reared it's ugly head again--this time in my foot.

On May 18th this year, I started a ferocious rehabilitation campaign to get my left hip in shape for the TCS NYC Marathon. This routine had 1-2 visits a week in either a physical therapist office, chiropractor, active-release therapy, massage, or New Orleans-style voodoo witch doctor. I did everything short of the later and made slow progress. I was in denial about the torn hip labrum pain that still persisted in my hip, but I kept to the in-home or gym rehab component which meant 20-30 minutes a day, six days a week of strength and stretching.
The Nile River from my hotel room

Then denial met the Nile and brushing my teeth threw a wrench in my plans. Confused? Follow me for a minute. I've dealt with a lot of travel in my marathon training over the years and the more challenging aspects of global travel. While it may sound glamorous, Moscow, Cairo and Dublin created my latest hurdle. I have experience with food and water issues in challenging cultures...Mexico, and India. Basic rule is don't drink the water, don't order drinks with ice cubes, and avoid fruit perhaps rinsed in water.

Cairo did me in. On the last leg of my trip, the nastiest bug possible quarantined me to a hotel in Dublin for two straight days where I dealt with a stomach bug, fever, and chills. The culprit? My hotel in Cairo overlooked what's known as the most polluted river in the world, and I remembered, I brushed my teeth with tap water. Oy vey.

The upside is I lost nearly six pounds and put me at my ideal race weight and lost a number of training sessions over ten days. I was able to overcome this as I was far enough out from the marathon, that a few missed days wasn't going to affect race day. Despite this logic, I replayed the month leading up to my 2015 Boston Marathon where (due to the torn hip labrum that wasn't diagnosed yet,) I "lost" nearly an entire month prior to the race and showed up without the appropriate conditioning.

At this point, you're saying, what the heck does brushing your teeth have to do with this "setback?" After regaining my strength, I resumed my training plan, but my system was still a bit toxic and acidic. This brought on "curveball" number three with the onset of gout in my left big toe. If you're not familiar with gout, it's known as the "rich man's disease." Too much in the way of rich food, steak, wine and the like. If you're never had gout, a serious case has pain so intense that dragging a bed sheet over your toe sends pain that ranks around a nine out of ten.
My bum wheel

Conventional wisdom would say, treat the toe and avoid running, and get back on schedule shortly. Again, with the Boston "layoff" messed with my mind and I proceeded to run an aggressive eight mile speed and tempo run. Stupid...just plain stupid. I couldn't walk without a limp, and cringed as I stuffed my swollen foot in my Adidas Ultra Boost shoes. The following day, the hip felt great, the gout toe still hurt, but the opposite side of my left foot felt worse.

The problem was I altered my run gait and basically ran on the side of my foot. The ensuing pain was around the area of the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot. I've gone through three different prescriptions to calm down the gout, but after the speed workout on Tuesday, I had my last long marathon simulated run of 20 miles that weekend. I tried to make it happen on Saturday, but the pain was too intense.. I tried again on Sunday. The foot felt better, but certainly wasn't pain free. Like many run injuries, they sometimes "loosen up" once I get into the run.

The long run was complete so I'd "checked that box," but once again the foot hurt again after the run. This was all three weeks out from Boston. I've hit the physical therapy on the foot hard using a combination of chiropractor treatment, dry needling, laser treatment and even cryogenic treatment.

Four days ago, one of my specialists "read me the riot act" on "why did you do that," and "do you realize that's the most common area for stress fractures?" Are you fricking kidding me? A stress fracture??? I've been down this curved path before and the only way to tell for sure is an MRI. Aside from all the above treatment I've gone through in the last couple weeks, I've used compression, ice, heat (more ice than heat,) and a stim tens unit at home. For the moment, I'm "grounded" with no running to try and calm down this foot. With less than two weeks to go, there's not much I can lose with my run conditioning so I have to be smart.

All this because, I brushed my teeth in Cairo.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Meme Monday: New York State of Mind

You might say I have a certain city and certain race on the brain these days.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Life, Adversity, and the Endurance Runner

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" (prophet John "Bluto" Blutarsky)

Wow. What a deep title. I have been through much over the last eighteen months and I can say that I look at life through a slightly different lens.

I'm one month away from the New York City Marathon, and at this point barring unforeseen circumstances, I will "toe the line" for my third world major, fourteenth marathon, and achieve a goal I set for myself early on in my run career--to qualify and race the TCS New York City Marathon. Yes, Seeking Boston is Seeking New York City.

With New York City on the brain (and not getting into Boston 2016--yes, it's been that kind of year,) I popped briefly into #Runchat Sunday night, and they posed the question,

One of the best text photo's I've ever got.
"Q2: What give you the most satisfaction: a PR or finishing despite tough circumstances? Why?"

Great question. I am a "speed freak" (although not very fast this year,) and PR was my initial reaction. Then, I revised my answer to the following;

"A2 Overcoming adversity. My slowest Mary was Boston on a torn labrum with my son able to witness. #runchat"

I won't rehash Boston this last April (you can read about it HERE,) but it was the slowest of thirteen marathons I've run as I discovered after the race that the hip pain I was denying was in fact a torn hip labrum.

I received one reply to my post that struck me as odd.

"@seeksboston26mi wouldn't you want your son to see you run your best race rather than hobble to the finish line?"

At first I thought it was odd, then I was slightly pissed. I guess you can misinterpret a tweet when it's confined to 140 characters. My oldest son was a month away from graduating from high school. Due to other conflicts, my wife couldn't travel so it was just "father and son" in Boston. I ran for a few miles in a shake-out run two days before the race. I was sore, and winded. A whole month of training up to Boston went to the wayside as my hip barked every time I ran more than a couple miles.

There were several times during the 2015 Boston Marathon, that I wanted to pull out. I lacked the proper training, my hip was a wreck, and I was borderline hypothermic, but one thought kept going through my mind...I didn't want to disappoint my son, and wanted to show him what hard work and overcoming adversity earns.

Dad and son downtown
He is not a runner, and I'm okay with that. He is like me in many ways, but also unique which I wouldn't have it any other way. As a parent, I'm 2/3 away from being an "empty nester" with him now in college. There were times during his senior year in high school where he was a bit lost. He didn't want to go to college. He considered moving to San Diego to try and make a living with his guitar (like his uncle Tim did almost 40 years ago.) I reassured him, that I didn't want to force him into doing something he wasn't passionate about, but I couldn't recklessly throw him out on the streets without an ability to pay rent or take a girl on a date without any money. (Don't be a hater...I'm old and old-fashioned.)

He decided to go to Metro State University in downtown Denver and live in a dorm on his own for the first time. I was more nervous than he was. He admitted he didn't try or necessarily "apply himself" in high school. I wasn't sure how he'd adapt, but I've got some reassuring updates in the last couple of weeks including the text he sent with his professor's comments on his paper (shown in this post.)

He didn't have the best grades in high school and didn't seem quite sure about his decision to enter college. He then had his own personal epiphany; perhaps he heard too many stories from his dad about potentially the best years of your life in college, no parents around telling you to pick up your clothes or empty the trash. This adventure was perhaps highlighted by the added bonus that it would be largely paid for by parents and grandparents.

I'd like to think that all those life lessons I tried to share in car rides to school, and the fact that his dad overcame so much to finish in Boston...perhaps some of that rubbed off on him. He's taken to school like a bird to water, and I couldn't be more proud.

My hip is not not quite 100%, I've dealt with a nasty flu from Cairo, and last weekend my foot swelled up in pain with gout before a 17 mile training run. Count me out of New York? No way. I plan to show my kids again, what hard work can do, and how to overcome adversity.

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine