Good News from the Doc

Posted: January 7, 2013 in Training
Tags: , ,

After an hour on the Tri-Bike trainer New Year’s Day I hopped off the bike and came to a few conclusions.

1.  There was very little chance my foot was going to improve enough to race this coming Sunday in Houston.

2.  I needed to make an appointment to see Dr. Jim Fernandez at Austin Sports Medicine for a diagnosis.

3.  Complete rest would be more helpful to me than any cross-training until I saw Jim.

So,  I shut things down and decided not to bike, swim, walk, stretch or really do much of anything until I could get an appointment at with Dr. Fernandez.   I would try to relax about Houston, chalk it up as a missed opportunity to race, but also as a chance for all the other bumps, bruises and slight aches and pains that a couple of years worth of training and racing with no break my body had accumulated to heal.

I had trained through an abdominal strain throughout Half-Ironman training and race day which is now 100% recovered.

My right hamstring was a bit tight, taking longer to warm-up that usual, but was not really hindering me during races.  That is now 100% back to normal.

As for the rest of the machine – I am feeling ready to do some serious racing – which brings us back to the Achilles tendon.

After sending in my race deferral on Friday – officially withdrawing from the Houston Marathon, my first experience ever pulling out of a race – I felt like 50% of the weight I had been carrying around me had been lifted.  My hope was that after seeing the sports Doc. on Monday I would receive the news that I had just a minor training injury/setback and the remaining 50% would be taken off of my shoulders.

Upon rising Monday morning I went through the usual process.  I opened my eyes and flexed my foot several times under the covers.  Making a mental note of any slight changes in stiffness or soreness.  I then put my feet on the carpet and made the tentative walk to the bathroom taking inventory with ever step.  Things seemed to have improved a bit and I was walking as close to “limp-free” as I had been before the gun fired at the Shiner half-marathon three weeks earlier.

I made my way over to Austin Sports Medicine, turned in the sheaf of paperwork that was required as my last visit was almost two years ago and waited my turn.

After Jim and I caught up about family and the kids we got down to business.  He asked about the injury, how I believe it happened, what treatments I had been self-prescribing, my rehab regimen and one of the reasons I love Jim so much as he is an athlete himself and is constantly working with athletes who train hard and race hard he asked, “O.K., so what’s the plan after Houston.  When are you planning on racing again?”

He didn’t have to ask if, only when.

I told him that since Houston was out of the equation, I had made no plans for subsequent large events.  I was going to take a little time to rest and relax, reevaluate things and set some goals for TRI Season and the Fall.  The thought was Houston was going to be my “send-off” race.

I added that if I could return to training in the near future, I was going to circle May on the calendar and look to race the Pocono Marathon – Run for the Red.

A smaller event on a fast course.  Not a lot of pressure, a race with maybe 1,600 runners and one where I would be able to run with the top 25-40 entrants.  Perhaps finishing even better than that if it all came together for me.

Jim gave me about the best bad news possible, or least-sh#%#!y news if you prefer to look at it like that.

I did not have a tear or severe injury to my Achilles.  I had a strain that was causing stiffness and “perceived weakness”.  There was no thickening of the Achilles tendon either, which can be a precursor to future issues.  He felt that during the unpaved mile on the Shiner course, I simply miss-stepped at a high intensity level going all out at half-marathon race pace and irritated the area.  Pushing hard on it the next 4-5 miles to the finish line took its toll even tough with the race-day adrenaline, I never felt it until my cool down.

I was now perhaps another 10-14 days away from a full return to running, my body would let me know.

Just get on the bike, get in the pool, cross-train, stretch and strengthen the area.

I would run again.  I would be able to train hard again.  I would race again.

A Marathon in May was a great plan.

So with that I thanked Jim for his time, his expertise and his prognosis – paid our bill and went on with our day – already feeling much better about ourselves, and we even got some points with Dr. Fernandez for being smart about how we managed the situation, not trying to be a hero and pushing through training and racing down in Houston making a not so great situation into a terrible one.

I must be growing up finally after 45 1/2 years.

As for Houston?  We’ll see.  I learned last year that it is not wise to assign too great a value to a particular race or event.  For two years all I thought about was racing the Boston Marathon and exacting revenge on that course since my first attempt back in 2010.  I thought about that race for more than 700 days.  I developed a training plan specific to the demands, my entire race calendar around those 180 minutes in Boston for an entire year.

On race day the temperatures reached 88 degrees and I trotted from Hopkinton to Boston on one of the most anticlimactic days of my life.

So this time – I will not get too carried away about Houston.  The race is just another race.  The day is just another day.

If I have time to prepare properly for the Poconos in May – then I am going to do exactly that.  I am going to wake up that day eminently prepared and 100% focused on that day, those 26.2 miles and those 180 minutes on the clock.  If the conditions are not ideal, I will simply do my best and move on.

If it doesn’t happen in May, then we will set our sites on Houston next January and go through the same process.  I will still have time to register for the race if I want to after coming through the chute in Pennsylvania.  If not Houston, then somewhere else, some other time.  The marathon is not going anywhere anytime soon, and I guess as a matter of fact, neither am I.  Not until we get ours.

logoPerhaps after all of this I’m supposed to race in the Poconos.  A Pennsylvania kid, born and raised, married to a Pennsylvania girl, running on for Dom who was all “Pittsburgh” from the tip of his toe to the hair on his head.  When he still had some.

Who knows, maybe Dom just wanted a better seat in the front row when we come thundering downhill to the finish line on May 19th with 2:59:XX on the race clock, arms spread wide, stride strong and a smile across our lips.  He was there in May of 2009 when we fist qualified for Boston in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Perhaps 4 years later, practically to the day he was just looking for a repeat performance.

Sounds good to me.

  1. Jim in Maine says:

    Considering the circumstances this post brought a smile to my face and lightened my heart some. Thanks for getting it all in right perspective Joe,

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jim, I am really sad we are not going to be together this weekend, but I hear the Poconos are a romantic getaway spot …. Maybe you and Patti will need a vacation this spring 🙂

  2. thebrownguy says:

    You are an amazing inspiration, Joe, maybe more so when you are not running, but teaching all of us who keep swinging away and our running goals the value of getting up when life (or injury) knocks us down. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thank you for the kind words and all the support. My Dad was the first one to tell me a long time ago that difficult times do to build character as much as it reveals it. I try to remember that when things don’t seem to be going our way. This little setback is going to make the breakthrough all the more special. Thanks for everything!

  3. Scott McIntyre says:

    Your Shiner half was strong. Sorry to hear you broke before Houston. It happens. Managing injuries is half the battle for masters. Good luck in Poconos.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks Scott! Thought we were ready to break through. It’s just a matter of when at this point. I’m starting to get excited about another training cycle. We’ll be ready when the bell rings. See you at Cap 10?

  4. Eric Matyskiela says:

    Joe, great to hear the injury is not serious and that you have a new goal! Life is good!

  5. onelittlejill says:

    The Brownguy hit the nail on the head. You are always an inspiration.

    I am back to blogging 🙂 And one of the best parts? Reading your blog again!

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