Sunday, February 26, 2012

Look I Am a Biker

Rest in Peace running.
Last weeks swimming experiment yielded more swelling.  The ART doc looked at my ankle for less than a minute and said, "Shut it down."  Six weeks.  He considers me lucky.  An Ortho would have wanted to boot it.  The hypothesis is a partial tear in the peroneal brevis that never healed completely. It pulls on the 5th metatarsal and inflames it. I keep forcing it for 8 months.  Eventually Uhwarrie gives it enough twists at one time to completely inflame the tendon and its housing sheath. Now I have a new lumpy friend on my L ankle.  I have named him Morry. As in, you have to be a complete Morryon to keep running on strained soft tissue.

Their is something on my shoe. I think I
may have stepped in bike.
Now that swimming has been eliminated, too much ankle movement relying on dorsiflexing overtaxes the tendon, I have hit rock bottom.  The bike.  A torturous instrument famously named after a jock strap. I dropped my dusty Trek mountain bike off at The Bicycle Chain for a complete tune up, directly after leaving my doctors appointment.  The same Trek that introduced me to the mysterious arts of Urology 4 years ago. A 29 inch high street curb, a bad jump attempt (the sun was in my eyes), and the conviction that I was related to Evil Kenevil, familiarized a bike seat to the nerve packet in my perineum and left me with a Flomax habit for 6 weeks.

A biking benefit: very few hats this cool
in running.
My last couple of posts began to drift toward self pity. I am past that now. I am now working on the sixth stage of Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of grief, delusion. The proscription rules out my favorite race of the year, Umstead Marathon. Although, today brings me up to 19 days without a run and Umstead will be held on my 25th day off, I fear this may be my first DNF. I am holding out for an Umstead miracle, but absent a squirrel herd hoisting me through the park I would put my odds of completing this race at less than 5%.  It should be noted that squirrel activity was unexpectedly high today.  

My strategy now is an all out NSAID attack and a reevaluation race morning.  I am going to pick up my number Friday night. If still swollen and/or numb I will take one large step at the start and then report my DNF to the race officials. I plan on bringing my bike to the race and impersonate a benevolent forest elf by delivering water, gel, shot blocks, human growth hormone and new shoes to the exhausted at the later miles.  Some guy on a bike saved my bacon last year with a timely gel around mile 24 between aid stations. I might take some pics of all the other healthy kids and document the event. And I did prepay for my delicious cold foil wrapped Moe's burrito. I would rather be at the race unable to run than at home whining about it. Besides, a lot of my running compadres are in this race. Maybe one of them will carry me.

Running, I always assumed this sign
 was an accusation. Biking, its
actually a caution.
So I tried the two wheeled approach to Umstead today. I covered all of the bridles from the race for just over a 1/2 marathon distance.  The leg held up pretty well. Tomorrow's swelling will provide the overall gauge of success. I was very grateful to be moving again. Body resistance just can not replicate the high you can get from cardio. I averaged 149 BPM HR.  Most likely held down by my terrible biking skills. I hit 28 mph down Reedy Creek and am insisting the tears in my eyes were from the wind, not terror. It is amazing how fast you can cover Turkey Creek on a bike. At one time, I was pretty sure I passed myself running from last month.

Bonus: crossing Turkey Creek with dry legs.
I may have been a little hard on the biking aficionados. Its not really my cup of tea, but after more than 30 days since my last Umstead appearance I have found it to be my best worse option. If I have to hit the trails on a Hover Round personal mobility scooter, it still beats daytime TV. I feel like my sit bones, quads, and lower legs handled the route pretty well. I hope this can be my fill in until the leg heals. There is a lot of room for improvement. This may be my opportunity to get into a healthy cross training habit. If I can return to running I am going to try to take a less is more approach. Alternating swimming and biking in between runs makes good sense to me. And who knows with all this practice time ahead of me, maybe a tri in the fall?

Good luck Umstead Trail Marathon runners. If I leer at you too long Saturday, I am coveting your healthy legs, not checking out your running shorts. Well, for most of you anyway.

Finally, an exercise induced hypo.
Slightly bulkier than trail shoes.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Under Water

Still no running since February 7. Eleven days off; a new PR!  I am a bit discouraged with the ankle's speed of recovery.  The swelling appears to have peaked and is slowly abating.  The shooting pains in the peroneals and 5th metatarsal's attachment are reporting less frequently and with less fervor.  I can still numb the top of my left foot by lightly touching the peroneal brevis tendon at its turn around the lateral malleous.  A sensation as creepy feeling as it is impossible to stop practicing. In my professional medical opinion, this area presents with remaining nerve impingement.  I am employed as a machine technician and have closely observed at least two episodes of Doogie Howser, M.D.. Unfortunately, my swelling concern for the rapidly approaching Umstead Trail Marathon has not peaked or abated.  Its going to be real close.  A last minute call with an experimental 4 week zero miles taper.  I have formally petitioned God, and promised my body only reasonable 10 percent millage increases in the future.  I can be trusted.  I have experience with these promises.  I have made them before.

And now... the good news.  I suddenly find myself with the extra free time of a part time job.  I visited my family in SC, fixed the remote control for the DVD player, sanded and stained a table (two coats), cleaned my room, eaten 3 refrigerators of food, and made the top of my foot numb by lightly touching the peroneal brevis tendons countless times. Did I mention the sleep?  Very easy falling asleep without the New Balances on the bed.  No longer rushing to beat sunset at the park, or mooning half the Glenwood entry parking lot in a breakneck transformation into shorts and trail shoes, I am suddenly noticing my surroundings. Apparently, I am married.  Have been for over 10 years.  She's hot.  Tomorrow I am going to try talking to her!  I'm not entirely pleased with my surroundings.  All of my running paraphernalia is squeezed into one tiny room upstairs.  At the very minimum, you would think my 2nd place, age group gold turkey trophy would be the tastefully lit centerpiece of the living room.  If this leg does not heal soon, I see big changes.  Maybe shelves.  A television cabinet!  I have lately acquired polyurethane skills.

In an effort to stay sane and alive, (my new hot wife is not used to having a part time job's worth of husband underfoot directly after work everyday), I launched a quest for an endorphin replacement program without hypercritical left leg weight bearing prerequisites.  My completely legitimate fear of horses ruled out equestrian events.  The etiquette of wearing sunglasses indoors eliminated poker. Attention Deficit Disorder disqualified fishing.  Common sense and local ordnance ixnayed archery and throwing knives.  So I gave up.  Luckily, Michele Rivera had insomnia preceding one of her 49 upcoming triathlons and read my blog from last week as an Ambien substitute.  What kind of trouble could a triathlete in a pharmaceutical induced sleep haze get into?  

Michele endorsed a beginner swim clinic for triathletes hosted by One Step Beyond Multi-Sport Coaching at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.  Rumor has it that this group of under-challenged athletes have somehow discovered a technique of running in water.  When trying to visualize this concept; think of stream crossings that are deeper than you are tall.  SWIM or Slowly Wondering If Moving is the earth haters answer to momentum.  The class is only offered on 3 dates this year and as this oddity sounds foreign and unnatural, I am sure it will soon be banned by decent people.  

Bermuda vacation picture stand in.  Its hard to
take pics in a pool situation.  I did sport the
speedos.  Can't wait to get back to something
less ridiculous, like my race kilt.
Egged on by my recent status as dorsiflexion challenged, Michele's recommendation, and my general disdain for many decent people, I decided to try this new fad.  Now I did not roll off the turnip truck yesterday.  Michele is Tri.  And these Tris are all the same.  They are always trying to peddle their odd propulsion on the rest of us vanilla runners.  Good upbringing and America taught me that swimming is a gateway to a very dangerous place....BIKING.   But, I went into this eyes wide open.  My velcro fastened tri-fold is not coughing up 3 Grovers (yes 10 Benjamins to the Grover) for a Cervelo, Felt, or Cannondale anytime soon.  I went just to see what the other kids were doing.  I wasn't getting hooked.  I just needed a quick fix.  Just a little serotonin enhancement.  I NEEDED some cardio.

You can not spell Phelps without "elp" which is what I yelped, as the h is silent with a mouthful of water, while nearly fending off drowning.  I have not swum freestyle since high school in Greencastle Indiana.  A state renown for its large quantities of water and palm trees.  The class of 8 triathletes, 2 coaches, and I studied swimming techniques for an hour and then tempted the Fates in the water for 2 hours of drills.  My cardio base and brute force wrestled my clumsy form to a draw and I finished alive.  I disassociated during the harder stretches by counting 9 year olds passing me by in a nearby lane.  Much like your first adolescent experiment with Mexican tar heroin, the experience was awkward and not flattering, but left an odd compulsion for more.  

Overall I enjoyed the coaching and the company.  Even if good folk frown upon their flamboyant bicycles, the Tris were as friendly and supportive as I have always found the long distance community to be.  Albeit a little less talkative underwater.  They even run among us.  One of the coaches, Seth, is running Umstead 100 this year. Maybe fortune will have me pacing him into the finish, 50 yards at a time without hyperventilating this time. Thanks Michele.  I have mad reverence for you.  Your sport is hardcore.  And yes, my google history is now full of pool searches for Raleigh/Durham.  It felt great to be moving again.  But no bikes!  Those shorts are ridiculous and I am still pulling speedos out of my pork chops!  Doc reevaluates on Monday!  Digits crossed.


Friday, February 10, 2012

My wings are clipped

Kinesio abstract art.
The doctor has officially revoked my running license.  No appeals, no early parole for good behavior; an immediate cease and desist order.  He pronounced peronesus brevis tendonitis and slapped me in leg irons. Terrible manacles in the form of a Kinesio tape 1/2 octopus.  This sentence appears reasonable, even lenient to my saner, non-runner family and friends.  A fortnight off with a reevaluation at the expiration of the two weeks.  Yet I am terrified.  The omniscient internet oracle google indicates that this injury can require 6 to 8 weeks of total rest.  Runner's World forums whisper blood curling tales of runners struck down for 6 months to a year!  Umstead Trail marathon begins in 22 days!

Since December 2008, my log shows one 10 day stretch void of running, an earlier rehab attempt for the fore mentioned peroneal brevis last May.  There are 2 separate week long rests in the same time frame for various body repairs. Outside these citations, over the last 2 and 1/4 years, I have never gone more than 4 days without at least a 3 mile run.  Only rarely do two blanks in a row deface my calendar.  Two weeks at best.  I fear madness.  My wife murmurs encouraging words, but I notice she secured a strait jacket.  The sizing is right.  It fits me.
Rejected by running, I fell into the glaze of my first love.

I joined the Royal Order of Diabetes Mellitus in May, 2008.  I suspect my immune system fell madly in love with a flu virus that was a doppelganger for my pancreas' beta cells.  My mother and I were both stricken with a nasty bug at Christmas in 2007.  I showed diabetic symptoms 6 months later.  Mom presented within the following year.  At the time I was measuring my content with stomach girth.  I was an Olympic caliber carbohydrate enthusiast with a couch hobby.

Exercise was prescribed as a means of reducing insulin resistance.  Less resistance translates into less insulin injected and lowered blood sugars as repairing muscles quickly uptake glucose in the bloodstream.  The best advice I have ever received from the medical industry.  I began walking up to an hour per day with great results, but I grew bored pretty quickly.  Running emerged from walking as my body adapted to the strange new movement and rebuilt a stronger frame.  It became my best weapon in battling diabetes' daily challenges.  Lowering insulin resistance, leveling blood sugars, and providing the rare opportunity for taboo foods during long runs, I loved it as Full Metal Jacket's Leonard Lawrence, "Gomer Pyle" loved his rifle.  And did I mention the ENDORPHINS.

Swelling behind the lateral malleolus say what?
As with any addiction, its pursuit eclipsed other practices.  I do some core work, have a BOSU, have a wobble board, pretend to stretch.  But these other exercises serve to benefit running, not as a substitute.  I am a one trick pony with a repetitive movement problem.  Neither genetics, nor bad luck derailed my running nirvana.  My exuberance for rapid evolution and trendy new kicks in the form of Vibram 5 fingers caused my hard luck.    

I have hosted this peroneal injury on my left leg since summer 2011.  I think it started with an eight mile run in an out of the box pair of KSO's.  I had some experience in barefoot running as a toddler that I assumed would translate to the Vibrams.  Near the end of the run my calves were burning.  The following day the peroneal brevis was hot to the touch through the skin.  The pain was very localized and I thought I had broken my tibia.  A later, X-ray showed no fracture and after a brief rest it was tolerable for some time.  When it resurfaced I rehabbed it by resting up to an entire week at a time.  Around August, the brevis' anchor, the tuberosity of my 5th metatarsal swelled up to a half golfball sized lump.  This resulted in a podiatrist appointment, mri, and another week off.  I narrowly escaped stress fracture or worse again and ran Medoc marathon in pretty good shape in October.

I want to do this again.
I limped through November and then upped my millage to 120 in December.  That push brought me over 1000 miles for 2011.  The tea leaves have been pretty clear.  The peroneal brevis and longus have been lodging constant complaints.  I'm up to a 2 per month massage habit to keep my hip and IT band functioning.  Pain jumped to the tibius anterior on a long run one week previous to Uhwarrie.  My left leg is breaking down from the foundation up.  I read one of Staker Chiropractic Center's neon advertisements on an Umstead tree.  Or maybe it was on Dana Pasquale's recommendation that led me to Active Release Technique.  Dr. Staker was able to release enough tension to get me through 20 miles at last weeks race, but the 3 miles two days later swelled my lateral malleolus into a gristly Easter egg.  

My 2nd and 3rd metatarsals are popping constantly now.  Top of foot pain is presenting and the left ankle is week.  After 2 days rest the Brevis is inflamed, malleoulus still swollen and painful, and the tib anterior is tight.  I am RICEing like a speedy gonzales lunch special.  At this point I am praying for a 5 miler to loosen up the week of Umstead and a miracle finish at the race.  To date, my most trying running challenge looks to be a two week rest.  Please be enough.  I desperately need another pint glass! 

This turned out to be an ironic time to start blogging about running.  I may review some of my favorite completed races over the next few weeks.  Or maybe a haiku.  A limerick.  Instructions on knitting your own calf compression sleeves?


Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012 Uhwarrie Mountain Run Review

The Uhwarrie Mountain Run promises all the post marathon leg soreness you love, but without unfairly discriminating against your upper body.  I am sore from the nose down, with the possible exception of my right elbow which is numb.  And its concentrated and deep; a soft tissue Little Bighorn.  Spinal Tap turned the pain volume up to 11 on this one.  Bundled in compression sleeves, bathed in Epsom salts, flushed with a 1.7 mph treadmill hobble, and gently foam rolled, I am confident that I will hobble to work Monday.

All of the flat parts are runnable.  
Two weeks ago, I gracefully rocketed through parts of this trail at a blistering 13:12 pace.  Uhwarrie (American Indian for You Weary? citation needed) is easily the most difficult terrain I have ever attempted.  That run left me with a lot of respect for this gauntlet, but I departed with a measure of confidence.  I ran the middle 8.5 miles twice.  I had armed myself with course knowledge.  I had surveyed and recorded the trail's worse.

A mere fortnight had passed.  Sponsor Bull City Running, somehow manged to insert two mountains into the course.  The 20 mile trail was liberally coated  in thousands of fresh rocks and one harminist.  The latter half of the race delivered rain and mud.  Taking into account UMR was to serve as an early in the season long run, I tried to throttle down to about 80%.  According to the UMR Life Insurance Mortality tables, running at this effort will result in a full recovery by June of 2016, or maybe death tomorrow.  They are kind of hard to read and I am still lightly hallucinating.  This race deserves respect.

My alarm clock welcomed race day at 3:30 am.  To avoid undue morning thinking, I prepared my equipment from HR monitor to the Flash Underoos the previous night.  Der Scott picked me up at an obscene 4:30 and we made big tracks to El Segundo Uhwarrie.  Its a two hour drive with a McD's coffee and pie stop so we rolled into the designated parking area for the 8 and 20 milers with plenty of time for registration.  The shuttles picked us up as twilight began its surrender to morning and we arrived at the start and bag drop with time to socialize for a few minutes.  Scott introduced me to Andrew of Fat Silly Yak, another Uhwarrie virgin and attempting this distance for the first time.  He looked otherwise quite sane.

The 20 mile race started on time at 8 am and the three of us staked out some prime real estate immediately behind all of the runners.  I had a chance to say hello to Linda Banks of the NC Galloway Banks.  It was popularly rumored that the climbs at the start of the race and mile 16 were best met at a brisk walk.  We intended to start slow, but our position in the rear turned out to be a little too conservative.  The first mile bottle-necked to several complete stops.  First mile spit was 17:40! We did not really clear traffic until about the 5 mile aid station.

Attempted highlander.
  Achieved Japanese school girl.
Uhwarrie is Godzilla.

Mile 5 through 10 went by pretty smoothly.  Scott pulled away from me in some traffic on an uphill and I never quite caught him again.  The mile 8 aid station marked the end of the shorter race.  I was pleased that the first of the 8's were still expected rather than arrived.  I got to smile for the cameras on the entrance.  Potato chips, 1/4 pb&j sandwiches, cookies, coke and heed rounded out the forest smorgasbord.  To keep the stop peppy, just two cokes and a water for me.  I was bombing down the hills and then crawling the ups. I did not want to get passed standing still at the trough.  The constant leap frogging with the power uphill, nordic track, climber runners had a negative impact on all of us.  Passing required a lot of extra energy and a small amount of courage.  Cookies just were not worth it.  Yet.

All natural Uhwarrie face cream 
provides the highest levels of spf 
The half way point added chilly sprinkles to the equation.  It continued on and off for the rest of the race.  The 40 milers, (I have mad respect for all of you lunatics), started under a slight delay due to some kind of parking issue.  I did not want to see the leaders racing back at me before mile 12.  The fleetest were running a 40 mile pace faster than I can hack out 20.   Encouragingly, the first passed me around the 15 mile mark.  The tick mob was well represented.  I saw Dan Bedard and Bart Bechard in the lead pack.  Bart looked like he was going to the mailbox for pizza coupons while I was already making false promises to my quads.  Anthony Corriveau, Heiko Rath, were soon passing by.  Mary Johnstone had enough spare time to take my picture.  I had lost the shirt by then.  Kilt, tattoo themed arm sleeves, and the braids Penny gave me the night before, resulted in some colorful fashion critiques from my Facebook obsessed co-workers.  Brandy Burns slipped by quickly on a blind corner.

I was feeling pretty good about breaking 4 hours, even with the jammed up first mile.  I was just starting to feel leg heaviness when I was introduced to the monster near mile 16.  That hill NC K2 politely informed me that I need a lot more climbing power before Umstead.  I only suspected it was bad until I hit the cross road and realized there is another hill at the top.  Then I knew it.  Hill squared.  At least, I suffered in good company.  I passed 9 people while walking stumbling up the Uhwarrie rock slide.  My long run deficit emerged, nothing but dead legs from 17 on.  I caught up to Scott for the last time at the last aid station.  I was too tired to latch on to him.  He finished strong, just over 4 hours.  I felt late marathon tired by now and was having trouble staying in the race mentally.  My mind served tempting excuses for walking the flats.  Or maybe a nice rest.  Happily all the chairs were cold, wet and granite.  I was still passing a few tattered souls.  I passed a pair of 2XU compression sleeves driven by a guy who's fatigue appeared similar to my own.  He passed me back and we repeated the cycle a few times.  We had a chance to talk for awhile.  Steve Rogers from SC.  He had more will left than me and started to pull away.  I attached my invisible rope to him and he dragged me to the end.  I finished right behind him.  Within sight anyway.  Thanks Steve, I was loosing the mental game.  You have stacks of will power.

Scott Lynch fuels his most 
important runs with apple
 crisp.  Shouldn't you?
The finish flags were glorious.  I am so glad I did not try the 40 on my first attempt.  Lord, please continue to protect me from me.  Blood sugars were a non-factor.  I can't ask for more than that.  Finished with a 121 BS.  Took 150g in Hammer Perpetuem, maybe 45g in coke classic shots, 54g in Hammer Apple gels, and 15g in potato chips.  Around 65 carbohydrates per hour. Cut my insulin in 1/2 two hours before the race and left it there until the end. .3 units per hour for 6 hours.  This formula is starting to firm up.  30 carbs every half hour, and half insulin.  I took 5 units of Rapid from a flex pen as soon as I changed clothes and then strapped on a feed bag.  Thank you Edge at the finish food tent.  That apple crumb dessert was a testament to the dutch oven.  Two hot chocolates full strength, an orange and more chips.  Scott and I ran into Kim from Bull City Running.  THANK YOU for an excellent show BCR.  Support your local running store.  They support us.

Finish time around 4:12.  I had predicted 4:20 in the last post, and suspected under 4:00 as soon as I forgot the experience.  The night before the race my pre-jiter insomnia prognosticated a 4:30.  I am pretty happy with the time.  I am confident I could have broken 4.  I am also confident that I could have broken a leg.  I had 2 minor falls and 2 UFC style full out sprawls.  I fell so hard near mile 12 that I had to urinate 200 yards later.  Uhwarrie, literally knocked the pee out of me!  All in all a great long run.  I am uninjured, excluding all of my soft tissue and ego.  Time and ice will take care of the tendons.  Time, beer and narcisim will patch my Freud box.

Still friends.  See you next year.