Wednesday, 9 January 2013

#94 Fixing a Hole

Just a quick update to assure everyone that after having been sidelined with injury and unable to run, I haven't gotten depressed, gone crazy or done anything stupid like take up swimming for a triathlon.

In fact, I'd almost admit to enjoying the multiple cross-training sessions I've done which have included either sweating profusely on the stationary bike (to the point of nearly passing out from dehydration) or sweating profusely on the elliptical trainer (to the point that my upper body was painful to the touch... I have a seriously weak torso). I repeated these activities for five full days and even began to look forward to the next session. It was indeed quite nice to be indoors, just a few seconds from home, and in a warm and windless enclosure free from the cold and cruel crutches of Mother Nature in January. In summary, it didn't suck!

Nevertheless, I was sad to miss the BLT workout on Thursday at Monarch Park and the first 30+k long run of the cycle on Sunday. I yearned for the times when running came easily and painlessly as part of my everyday schedule. My foot seemed to be feeling better each day but I was still uncertain as to what lie ahead. So, wanting to better understand my predicament and plan my course of recovery, I got an appointment to see a sports physician at the sports medicine clinic at U of T on Monday afternoon and was hoping for some good news.

After taking my history and a physical examination of the injury, I was entirely relieved to hear the doctor doubt it was a fracture. In fact, she didn't think it was bone at all. Rather, she suggested it was tendinitis (aka tendinopathy), which is the inflammation and swelling of connective tissue which connects muscle to bone. In this case, it was tendinitis of the extensor muscle that is responsible for lifting the big toe. This diagnosis (extensor tendinitis) explains the dorsal foot pain, made worse while walking, and has a far less fearful (and much faster) prognosis than any fracture. For that I was overjoyed. As suspected, the injury likely stemmed from my recent introduction of a shoe (Kinvara 3) with less forefoot support combined with the icy/slippery conditions as well as an ill-timed hill workout (last Monday). Treatment would involve RICE, ibuprofen and strengthening exercises. Just before I left, I anxiously asked the doctor whether I could/should run and she said that it was fine as long as the pain was minimal and wasn't affecting my running form/stride. Again, I was excited.

That very evening, I hesitantly went to my buildings godawful gym to test out the treadmill. I made it to 5k feeling fine but began to experience pain at 7 so called it quits at 8. It was a descent start. The next day I did 10k, again on the treadmill, and felt okay the entire time. I planned to try a second run in the evening but opted out, not wanting to push my luck too far. Today, I did a full 10 miles and felt good which makes me think I am ready to return to regular training. Tomorrow is another Thursday speed workout at Monarch Park with the BLT crew so I'll take it one interval at a time and am prepared to back off if the intensity is too much.

For now I am thrilled to be running again and am doing everything possible to stay healthy. There are now two and a half weeks until the Robbie Burns 8k on Sun 27 Jan and I plan to take it 'easy' until then and focus on remaining injury free. Full and proper Boston Marathon prep will commence with 12 weeks to go.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

#93 I Want To Tell You

As previously mentioned, 2012 was an incredible year for me in terms of running (6012k) and racing (18 times including 11 PBs) and so in an attempt to stay positive and 'always look on the bright side of life' (despite my recent setback), here is a short review of my past year in running...

My top 12 of 2012:

12. Losing to Doyle in a final sprint to the finish at the Robbie Burns 8k (I should never have let him know I was there). I ran a (chip) time of 27:45, good for 9th overall.

11. Running the Pride 5k in under 17min (16:56) only one day after surgery on a broken thumb (and whilst wearing a massive cast (and hipster glasses)).

10. Setting a new marathon PB in Hamilton in 2:36:27 and finishing 2nd overall. The last 7k sucked!

9. Winning the team challenge at the Yonge St. 10k where I ran (an illegitimate downhill time of) 33:16!

8. Winning the MEC Summer Classic 5k in 16:03. Where did that speed come from?!

7. Organizing the inaugural Longboat Ekiden. Our 'LB Samurai Splits' won the event in a time of 2:26:46 and I was second in the 10k 'leg' in 34:20

6. My first ever outright win at the Good Friday 10-miler in 57:20. Two thumbs up for this one.

5. Fierce inter-team competition at the Lindsay Milk Run 10k where one of our teams definitely won (mine!). I also ran an impressive PB in 34:16

4.  Running Around The Bay 30k in 1:51:21. I absolutely love this race!

3. My second ever marathon and breakthrough at the Toronto Goodlife Marathon in 2:36:59 for 5th overall.

2. Running 1:13:29 (that's fast) at the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Half in the company of good friends.

1. 'The Black Lungs' finish in second place overall at the 2012 Cabot Trail Relay Race. I ran twice winning Leg 3 (just barely avoiding being 'hagged') and a eerily awesome Leg 10 up Mt McKenzie.

#92 I'm Down

The Road to Boston 2013: It just got longer!

A few short days ago, I had just capped off a 145k week with an amazing Winter long run with the BLT crew and during which I had hit a remarkable feat of running over 6000k for the entire year (6012k to be precise). 2012 was a year which by all accounts had been an overwhelming success having achieved PBs in every distance I had raced (5k, 8k, 10k, 10M, HM, 30k, Full). I had a breakthrough at Goodlife (2:36:59) and followed that up with a slightly faster Hamilton (2:36:27); won my first ever race, the Good Friday 10-miler in Burlington, and then another at the MEC 5k Summer Classic; won team relays at the Yonge St 10k, Lindsay Milk Run and was a member of the second place team at the Cabot Trail Relay Race on Cape Breton; and joined a number of good friends and training partners in the formation of a new performance-based running club, 'Black Lungs Toronto.' Indeed, it was an incredible year!

Heading into the new year, I was indeed feeling on top of the world with high hopes and ambitious aspirations for 2013. After weeks of frustration and minor setbacks, I was finally feeling good again and ready to tackle the tough weeks ahead.

Then, on Monday morning, as I embarked on my first run of the day, an easy 8k along the MGT, I became aware of an annoying and distracting sensation somewhere on the top of my left foot. I tried my best to ignore it and managed to get through the run rather comfortably, the pain not becoming any worse as I went. I iced it immediately afterwards and the pain seemed to subside. Later in the day, I joined the group for a hill workout in High Park and again was bothered by this niggling dull pain that didn't really seem to get any better or worse over time but seemed to just be there.

On New Years day, the program called for 16k with a 4k interval at mid-tempo pace and luckily I met a group of BLT team mates along the MGT and got through it, albeit more painfully than the day before. To make matters worse, routine walking was now too becoming an increasingly uncomfortable and progressively painful procedure. I again rested, iced, and elevated and hesitantly hoped that things would improve.

Waking on Wednesday, I was immediately reminded of the problem with sharp shooting pain in the midfoot following any and all weight bearing activity (ie standing and walking around). I now knew that this was serious and all signs and sources seemed to suggest a sad similar fate: a stress fracture! For the first time in my running career, I was scared. I called to make an appointment to see a sports physician but was sceptical that a proper diagnosis would be correctly made at this early stage of the injury. I also knew what I would inevitably be told by absolutely everyone: "Stop running." And so just like my friend and teammate Kevin Gough who is also struggling with injury, my mind soon went to the same dark place: "There goes my Boston."

This morning (Thursday) was more of the same and I'm quietly coming to terms with my condition: I am out indefinitely and all training and racing are off, perhaps for a month or more. Unable to even walk comfortably, the depression is likely to set in as I begin to place blame for being in such an unfortunate position. Of course the fault is all my own. Too fast, too far, too much, too soon. 145k following an 80k week. Foolish to the nth degree! The conditions didn't help either: the cruel cold, wet and windy, slippery and slushy, harsh and hard. Winter running is tough even at the best of times. I also can't help but suspect a new pair of shoes, Saucony Kinvara 3s, may have played a part, having had no issues before introducing this pair into the rotation. Not enough mid and forefoot support compared to what I'm used too. All factors combined, it was a perfect storm and only a matter of time.

Trying to be smart and sensible about the situation, I am placing myself on the running DL (disabled list) for the time being. I will wait to get a professional opinion and official diagnosis before weighing my options and predicting/planning where my season goes from here. I fully intend to run Boston on April 15th but will likely have to adjust my goals if I miss any significant amount of training. This morning I tested the stationary bike at the gym (dry, warm, windless...nice) and was able to do that painlessly and so hating the pool and the elliptical, spinning will be my new substitute.

As runners, we all fear the prospect of being sidelined by serious injury and being prevented from doing that which we love. We must however realize that after persistently pushing our bodies to the brink of its physical limits in order to improve, that eventually we may push too far and find ourselves on the wrong side of our own limitations, and in my case, humbled and hobbling with a far too long road of recovery and rehabilitation ahead.

The Road to Boston 2013. 15 weeks to go. Uncertainly and an uphill battle await.