Friday, January 13, 2017

Six Week Knee Update. Guarded Optimism

It's been six weeks since my knee surgery and I am, what you might call a Guarded Optimist. Watch the video below for details....

Link to Video

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017. Gotta be Better Than This!

In keeping with my New Years recap habit, I am posting here today without much to recap. I did get in 1689 miles this year, which is certainly not my worst year, but not very satisfying as I was on track for 2500. Injuries kept me out of the San Francisco Marathon, the Squamish 50K, and the New York City Marathon. Lots of $$$ down the tube.

I found it though. It was August 15th, two days after a hard 12 mile run that I made the following notation in my training log: "back of left knee sore, stiff, non-supportive." The next day I missed my first day of running for 2016. After that, it was all downhill (more on that at http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2016/10/good-news-bad-news-bad-news-and.html).

On December 1, I had knee surgery. The proposed microfracture surgery was not performed as it was not deemed to be the best solution to my issues. SO, I was cleaned, tightened up and sent on my merry way (or not so merry way, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-Hl-ENbuck). Since then it was been ice, elevation and exercises.

Yesterday (the 1st) was my target for my first post-surgery run. It didn't happen. Instead I went for a three mile walk. Not very satisfying to say the least. The knee just isn't ready.

Swelling is down. Flexibility is up. Pain is minimal. Instability is the biggest culprit at this point, so I'll keep working it in the hope that within the next few weeks a real live run is possible. After that, we'll see. 

Run on (and get in a few for me).


Friday, October 14, 2016

Good News, Bad News, Bad News and Perspective

So Wednesday, Dr. Michelle Wolcott and I examined the MRI of my knee. The hope was for something easy like a meniscus tear. Go in snip, snip, back on the roads in three weeks. No such luck! Bad news.

There is about a 2cm section of the cartilage in my left knee that is gone. Yeah, like gone, disappeared, vanished. Surgical options: microfracture surgery (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microfracture_surgery.) Six weeks on crutches, five or six months rehab. The two other options had to do with cadaver cartilage and very strange things, so I quit listening. Bad news 2.

So what's the good news? Oddly, the good news is very little arthritis (especially for a guy with 109,000 miles on his legs). I'll take it where I can get it.

Sunday, three weeks before the race, I will withdraw from the New York City marathon and be able to guarantee entry for 2017. Yep, keeping the options open. My plan is to have the surgery in December prior to a four week stretch where I do not have gigs booked. Good recovery time, right?

I've been sick about this for a month, and cannot imagine not running for that long (the elliptical is not my friend). It's been difficult to say the least. Yesterday, however, it all changed. As I sit next to my youngest son Ryan, lying in his cardiac care room of the South Aurora hospital (he'll be okay), perspectives change and the things that are really important become just that: really important.

I will run again. Most importantly, he'll be fine. Good news, Bad news, Bad news, Great news.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

Today I had a follow-up visit to Dr. Michelle Wolcott. She is my orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedic surgeon, you ask? Yep. Things have gone from better to worse, to better to worse since we last posted.

Growing out of my butt issue, came a knee issue. Extreme tightness and pain behind my knee which got so bad on two occasions that I would get 2 - 3 miles out on a run and have to walk back. The first thought from my usual Doc, the magnificent, Carly May, was Popliteus muscle (my thought too). So just before she went off to vacation time, we scheduled an X-Ray. That X-Ray, instead, returned a finding of some mild arthritis. Really? Some "mild" arthritis after 50 years and 109,000 + miles of running? As I stated in the last blog, I'll take that after all this time.

I existed on a crutch for a few days and was progressing nicely until I was demonstrating a stretch and went to use my left leg to get up and the knee completely collapsed under me. I'm good, generally speaking, with pain but this was pretty, stinking, big time, painful. Back to the crutch, and off to see an orthopedic surgeon to find out what the problem really is.

A new set of X-Rays were ordered as orthopedic surgeons have their own way they like to look at things. Dr. Wolcott ("call me, Michelle") didn’t completely ruled out a possible meniscus “weakening,” although, she found no reason to think a tear was present after a thorough examination. We spent a lot of time discussing cartilage and looking at my x-rays. I have “a good amount of stuff” floating around in my knee and while it could be cleaned up through arthroscopic surgery at some point, she was not thinking that is the immediate problem. Her general conclusion was (and I had her let me record it) was: 

“You don’t really have arthritis but the cartilage is starting to crack and break down a little bit and that’s causing friction and some swelling in your knee. Because of that swelling the muscles aren’t firing quick enough on impact to support the knee and so the feeling of weakness and pain.”

She gave a couple of immediate options, and to tell you the truth I don’t remember them. I did opt for the steroid injection. I'd never had an injection in my knee before so I was a bit apprehensive. She got it done quickly and frankly, I really didn't notice it happening. My knee was supposed to be numb for a bit and if I was feeling ready and had no issues after 48-72 hours I should try a light, short run. SO, I did. This was two weeks ago.

I pretty much shuffle jogged day one (the third day) and decided I was pressing my luck. I took another day off and then hit the woods in the Cherry Creek State Park for 3 miles (flat, soft, wide trail - just what the doctor ordered, so to speak). Not pain free yet, but not bad. Over the next 6 days, I ran 3,3,4,0,3,5 miles. Then after the okay 5 miles, I went to open the door for someone at Walmart (that'll teach me to be a gentleman at Walmart), and my knee just gave out. A shot of pain up the side and OUCH.

Clifton 3 by Hoka
In the several days to follow, every time I would stand or move in a "not perfectly straight, supported manner," I'd get the pain. So today, I was back in for follow-up with Dr. Michelle. The check up was quick, as the immediate plan was MRI. She is believing the issue now to be a degenerative meniscus tear, but is open to whatever is found. We discussed the options if that, or something else concrete, is found, including surgery. We'll see about that.

In the meantime, I ordered a kick ass pair of Hoka Clifton 3's. They arrived yesterday. I'm waiting to run in them.....

Monday, August 29, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: the Final Post

The final post? Where are the others?

Confession: the other posts of How I Spent My Summer Vacation have yet to be posted. They include excitement ranging from the Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon to the USATF Junior Olympic Track meet in Sacramento. All good stuff, and way overdue, but last things first.

Last Friday, I went in for a lower lumbar MRI, without contrast (which I have no idea what it means, but it sounds cool). The problem was/is, my butt. Around early July, I began to notice a nagging pain in the ass (not other people, actually in my glute). Being an experienced runner, I self diagnosed Piriformis Syndrome, an ailment to which I have been subjected on several occasions in my running career. Being a veteran, I opted for self-healing and began the injury evasion dance. Restaurant chairs were bad, but airplane sitting was the worst and I will confess that after a flight to San Diego ten days ago, I could BARELY walk off the plane. 

After missing the San Francisco Marathon as well as my 50K debut in Squamish, British Columbia (mucho dinero down the drain), it was time for some professional intervention. It was time for the incredible Dr. Carly May. Carly has cured me through an earlier Piriformis episode, Plantar Fasciitis, Popliteal inflammation, Hamstring problems, and most any other running related injury you can imagine. Three visits, several rope flex tortures, countless dry needles, and a lot of cracking later, Piriformis left the list of causes of my never-ending pain. 


What was left? What could be causing my extreme pain and discomfort, especially after sitting for any period of time? She decided maybe, just maybe, a herniated disc. SO, the MRI. Results: after significant trauma surrounding the noisy MRI tube and my mild claustrophobic moment, it was found that all I have is "very mild degenerative changes of the lumbar spine without significant spinal canal stenosis or nerve impingement."

My reaction? That's nothing. If this is all my spine has going on after almost 65 years on the planet, 50 years of running, and nearly 110,000 miles pounding the planet's surface, then BRING IT ON (I owe it all to good feet)!

So what is wrong? Well, I have to tell you that we're not sure. BUT, it's getting better. I have begun a vigorous routine of deep water running, the elliptical, my strength and core workouts, along with some targeted stretching and I'm feeling pretty darned good. Lost in the treatment was the discovery that my worst pain came after sitting, as previously mentioned, for long time periods EXCEPT when the sitting happened in my car. Huh, my car, a sports car that sits me back and drives my knees up. SOOOO, now I have my little rolled pad that I can tuck under my knees when I am desk or table bound. So far it is testing well, as the researchers might say. Today, I sat for 25 minutes and no pain.

Running? It's coming. With less than ten weeks until the New York Marathon, there is no time to be wasted. By the end of the week, I hope to hit the soft trails and we will see where it goes from there. 

Like every tight distance runner, I vow to stretch, lift and do all those exciting things to take care of my body, hopefully preventing a relapse (or some other injury). Vow, a funny word meaning promise. We'll see how that goes. Anyway, I am looking to a future being back at what I love.

Run on.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Track and Field Kind of Summer

The three ring circus has nothing on Hayward Field

I've always been a sucker for a good track meet. Well, even a mediocre one too. Since my first one, the Huron Relays in March of 1967, I'm hooked.


When P.T. Barnum added the third ring to his "Greatest Show on Earth" in 1882, he indeed invented the three ring circus. He was, however, a little behind in this whole three ring thing as the first Olympic Games were held in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece. The Greeks expanded the circus to include the pentathlon and everything went big time when the Romans picked up track and field around 200 BC. Talk about a three ring circus....

Don't get me wrong, a circus can be pretty fun, and a football, baseball, basketball, or hockey game can be extremely sensually stimulating. But in today's "modern" world, a well oiled track and field meet could have as many as seven events going on simultaneously. While the schedule rolls through the running events, spectators can also get their full of throwing, jumping, and vaulting in every corner of the stadium. I loved running in them, I loved organizing them. I digress.

Spring (and summer) is track season. This one has been very special.

First, my Grandson, Mason, had a fabulous season running mostly the 1600 and 3200 meters for Eaglecrest High School. As a sophomore, he regularly competed with the best distance runners Colorado had to offer and became an outstanding runner with an exciting future. Each meet was fun, each meet was personal. And as you get to know the other kids on the team, every event becomes a little personal as they try to summon the best they can give.

Next, I spent four days watching the NCAA Championships on the television. Collegians attempting to become National Champions and All-Americans is very cool. I remember the Penn and Ohio State Relays in college. Fantastic atmospheres. 

Last weekend, Mason ran in the USATF (track and field's governing body) State Junior Olympics. He won the 1500 and 3000 and qualified for the regional in three weeks in Albuquerque. The hope is that he will make it to the Nationals in Sacramento at the end of July. 

If all that isn't enough, tucked in the middle is a trip to the USA Olympic Track and Field Trials at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, OR. Linda and I set it up as a "reward" for Mason's great season tagged onto a present for his sixteenth birthday. Of course, there could be a bit of selfish motive behind the choice of the gift as I have never attended the Trials. Oh well.  

So, it's a track and field summer. Pretty exciting. Somewhere in the middle of that, we might sneak in the San Francisco Marathon. That's a topic for another time.

Run on (in circles, well, ovals).

Monday, May 23, 2016

A For Accomplishment

Lately, my running has provided few highlights and fewer accomplishments. This past week marked the end of that trend. Four, count 'em, FOUR things went very right this week: mileage, long run, weight loss, extra sessions.

First and foremost, I didn't travel this week so it allowed for some focused mileage. The total for the week was 57. This followed a nice 48 week. This one we'll back off a little (46 ish). In my younger days I tended to build for three weeks and recover for one, now I move to a two/one ratio. So 45-46 this week and then back up.

Next, the long run. I went 14 yesterday. Granted 14 is not 20 or something, but I haven't been that far in a while. In fact, the last long run of a similar distance was the 15 on Magnolia Road back on March 6 (see: http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2016/03/magnolia-road-lives-up-to-its.html). Don't get me wrong, it was not easy, smooth, or anything like that. It was, however, 14. I'll take it. 12 this week and then up to 16-17.

In 2015, I lost a lot of weight. Unfortunately through an injury, the holidays, and a complete disregard for any semblance of discipline, it has all come back. Last week, however, I dropped 7 pounds (actually 9 in the last 10 days). Understanding that this kind of rapid loss is not sustainable, and while I am not believing that slimness is just around the corner, I like progress and am happy to have made some dietary changes that reflect my concern for my well being for the future.


The "Workout Room"
Finally, I hit the strength and core program. Like most other workout oriented things, consistency takes discipline. The thing is this: I have no idea what makes this particular thing so challenging. All I have to do is walk downstairs. Everything I need is there. No trip to a gym, no fighting for a machine. Worse yet, once I begin, I love it. So three workouts down, I strive for consistency.

That's it. A rare good week. Hoping to make good weeks the norm.

Run on.