Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Validation: In The High Country

It wasn't that I felt the need, after viewing In The High Country, to walk up to Anton Krupicka or Joel Wolpert and utter the words, "You complete me." I didn't need completing. In fact, I didn't need anything. But, I felt something. Something familiar.

I'd spent thirty minutes at The Boulder Running Company, had been to Marshall's and had even grabbed a bite to eat. Still, I was over a half an hour early and the first to be seated at The Dairy Center For The Arts for day two of the movie's world premiere. Quickly scanning for the perfect location, I pondered row two, but opted for the third, smack dab in the middle.

What followed was a parade of interested runners, enthusiasts, hipsters and hipster runner enthusiasts. Compared to me, they all looked hipper and more like runners. None were more enthusiastic.

Lately, the trails have been calling me. After pretty much missing four weeks with a nasty foot injury, I returned to running with a very simple goal: to run. I had races on the schedule and had lost valuable preparation time, but that didn't really matter. I just wanted to run again. In my desperation to feel like a runner during this downtime, I devoured every running publication known to mankind, watched youtube and flotrack videos, and read the blogs of those engaging in that activity I was missing. I bought the movie Unbreakable about the Western States 100 (fantastic), and learned about the Nolan's 14    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4S7k13mUlM). Then..... about five weeks ago, I could run without foot pain. Yay!

I recovered pretty well, if I do say so myself. I ran 4 miles a day the first few days and then dove in beginning the buildup for my Marine Corps Marathon date in October. The eighteen week plan commenced. In the last four weeks I have logged 47, 55, 60, 78 miles. Happily, I am right on schedule with fourteen weeks to go. Interestingly though, I don't actually care. I'm not, although I believe this to be a fluid thing, overly caught up in one race, track workouts or timed miles. I'm just loving running.

Last fall in the 100,000 mile report (http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-100000-mile-report.html), I wrote, "Running was/is a simple activity, cyclical in its nature. One foot placed in front of the next in order to move forward: to cover ground, to open my mind, to allow me opportunities to escape my troubles or celebrate my triumphs. Mostly, to connect me to and strengthen my relationship with this planet upon which I exist. For that, I am ecstatically, humbly grateful."

It's been challenging at times to explain this "connection with my planet thing" to my own fellow runners, let alone civilians. But finally, sitting in row three at The Dairy Center for the Arts, I found someone who understands. Joel Wolpert produced a film that touched the topic of running in a unique way, a familiar way. Early in the film, Tony Krupicka says (and I know this isn't an exact quote), "Running defines the landscape. The landscape defines our home. Our home defines us." (Wish I'd have written it down right that moment.) Nonetheless, I get/got it. And it's what I've always believed. Running is an act that, for me, is the essence of being alive. I am living, breathing, connecting and exploring my limits every single day when I strap on the shoes and hit the earth. It is an act that is, all at once; effort and relaxation, pain and joy, hunger and fulfillment. Geez, I love running.

And yes, I guess, while it may not complete me, it sure did validate me. Thanks Joel and thanks Tony for an incredible movie.

Run on...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fortune In Misfortune

It's been two and a half months since I last blogged about running. That blog was written following the tragedy of the Boston Marathon.

April was completed with over 900 miles for the year and I was well on my way to my goal of 2700. I ran through my trips to California, Virginia, Alabama and Georgia. All systems were sort of "go." Sort of.

Throughout the year, I have had this pain on the joint on the outside of my left foot. Because it's mostly tolerable, It has not kept me from, as the post office would say, my appointed rounds. In early May, it worsened. Then, it spread over into my arch. It seemed like Plantar Fasciitis. Days before the Bolder Boulder, I was limping and on the Saturday before, I decided I needed to stop (and I am not good at stopping).

I have run for nearly 47 years. I have coached for decades as well. For the most part, I am self-diagnosed and self-treated. This time, however, no matter what I did the injury was not responding. 

The first step, of course, was to take some time off. Ice and massage worked well and each day I could see progress. As soon as I'd try to sneak in an easy 3 miler, I'd get set back. So,
the next step of my misfortune, was to seek help (and I am not good at seeking help). I researched EVERYONE in an attempt to find someone who could cure my PF while understanding the nature of my obsession for running. I found Dr. Carly May (she got my vote when I discovered that she would be gone for four days in June working at the USATF Track National Championships).

Our first meeting was a lot of chatting about my history, mileage, and habits. Then a bit of ART (Active Release Therapy) and some dry needling. I learned I had tight glutes (I thought that was a good thing, it always worked for Jennifer Aniston) and began doing an exercise to loosen those pesky things. I would return in a week and we'd see how we were doing.

On that return visit, after the usual ART and needles, it was decided I would have my foot x-rayed. My overwhelming thought was that FINALLY I might find the origin of this problem. The results sent me a bit of a shockwave.

My foot wasn't broken, nothing torn. The x-ray person did, however, see what he/she called "medial calcinosis," and then added the kicker, "suggestive of diabetes." 

What? Suggestion of what? Hey, I know my Mom had diabetes and my Brother has it, but not me. No way. Immediately I set an appointment with my primary physician. 

Maybe not THIS thin...
Long story short, my tests came back within the normal range. Once again, I believe, running 101,700 miles for almost 47 years allowed me to dodge a bullet. The scare factor, however, finally replaced bullet dodging with a cleaned up set of habits. The biggie: Pepsi. Sorry Pepsico, someone else will have to carry the weight (pun intended) for the company. It can no longer be me. We had a nice run, so to speak, but our time is over. I have also replaced garbage snacks with fruits and vegetables. 

AND, of course, I am back on the trails. Broke in slowly with 12 miles the first four days. Found most everything to be in good order, so quickly moved to 47 and 55 miles the last two weeks. Most importantly, I have dropped 15 pounds in 19 days. I have a long way to go and hope to have to do some serious wardrobe purchasing in September or October (maybe I can find some clothes from college). The goal is to return to the form so that if my Grandma Sands were still alive, she'd say, "You look like hell. Let me feed you."

I am fortunate that my misfortune was only a scare. This time, I am listening. And pass the scotch tape, I'm getting ripped.

Run on!