Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Does Not Kill Us...

Sometimes denial pays off!  Although the knee pain feels like bone on bone, with swelling inhibiting motion when bending it past 90 degrees, I am guessing/hoping it is only knee strain.  It hurts less to run than to walk.  Did 17K yesterday without major pain, so I will continue to take every other day off and monitor (this is what I call avoiding a trip to the doctor) on a weekly basis.  Thanks for the offer to help diagnose the issue, Derrick.  I could not reply directly (I know, a computer challenged systems analyst...) so consider this an answer and an update.  I'll definitely contact you if this persists for 3 more years.

Two topics today!  Although podium runners probably have a different outlook (I have never been a podium runner, although through luck and logistics, I have found myself on the podium upon occasion), many ultra runners attend races in part, for the social aspect.  Purely as an observation, a race is not necessarily the best medium in which to socialize with fellow runners.  Before the race, many are a bag of nerves and can only maintain discordant communication.  We are all trying to finalize our nutrition strategy, organize drop bags, make that last life-saving trip to the loo...

During the race, talk degrades to primal grunts, shouts of "Hi!" and on some occasions, an actual conversation the lasts more than 18 nanoseconds.  After the race?  Yeah, I can't speak for everyone, but I typically look and feel like someone who has vacationed in a middle eastern war zone.  Parts of my mind and body are not working according to the scriptures, and crawling into a hole sometimes has more appeal than chatting about the race results.

So, a race venue is not always the ideal setting for chatting with the fellow runners we see at various races during the season.  Good friends Cheryl and Gerry take care of this gap by hosting a social at the end of each season, where we can get together and talk about running and hula hoops.  People are relaxed (except Barb and Ron Gehl, and daughter Laurie McGrath, who seem to think that it is neccessary to be in a accident before or after every running event.   Perhaps they need an extra challenge?) dressed in these wild non-running clothes (yeah, I had never seen them before either) and willing and able to spend a few minutes chatting, rather then mixing some strange looking brew (you're not really going to drink that, are you?) as prep for the race.

I also get a chance to talk with runners who are typically gone long before I finish, or are running a distance where I would need to stick around until the next day, to say more than hello.  Like Jeff Ashizawa, who did amazing things this year in the Ontario ultra series.  Lee Anne and I drove down with Ken Moon, another runner who is way out in front.  Ken considers himself to be a "slow" 50K runner (he excels at the longer ultras) posting lethargic times, such as 4:28.   4:28?  Slow for a 50K?  Maybe in a car.  We had so much fun talking with Ken that we took a circuitous route on the way home.

The other topic is one that I have threatened to discuss in prior blogs.  Injury list.  You might want to skip this section out of fear of boredom or to assist with your own denial...

I should present the info in some cohesive spreadsheet, but there is no true fashion of making this pretty...  Here goes!

Some injuries do not affect my running, such as crushed fingers, broken nose and hyper extended elbows.  I've listed everything in order to avoid appearing like I favour some injuries over others:

Neck.  Broken.  Rugby.  My doctor diagnosed it as broken, although technically, all I have is massive degeneration in V's 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.  This can (and does) cause loss of feeling in both my arms.  Since it does not affect my running, it is kinda cool!

Elbow:  Hyper extended during a university rugby game.  The most pain for your dollar.

Back:  Contused lumbar region (Rugby), scoliosis, compressed disc (downhill ski racing) putting pressure on my sciatic nerve.  This is the big one, in terms of impact to running.  It curtails the amount of effective training I can undertake without ending up in a wheelchair, again.  During a race, if my back acts up, I have about 2 hours before I will lose feeling in one or both legs and fall down.  I can usually get back up, but running (as opposed to a comical lurching walk) becomes a low-percentage challenge.  Rule of thumb:  Since the pain is quite severe, if I have more than 2 hours remaining in a race (2 hours, adjusted for a zombie-slow jog) when my back gives notice, I DNF.

Right knee:  No issues (disregard the comments at the start of this blog entry and the previous entry.  Oh, and chipped knee cap (chainsaw).  All right, there is also arthritis in both knees.

Left knee:  No cartilage (high school basketball), torn patelar tendon (University rugby), cut ACL (chainsaw), IT band (who doesn't have this?), cut quadricep (swiss saw) and knee strain (arthritis).  If you have a problem with your knee, talk to me.  I can probably provide an accurate diagnosis!  When a knee causes pain, I change my running style to favour it, which usually goes away after 10 minutes.  If the pain persists, my back will give out (see above) after 30 minutes of running with a limp.

Hips:  Arthritis.  This is fairly new (less than 5 years) and interesting in that it restricts me from fully extending my legs.  There is also much more resistance, similar to running under water, resulting in more effort.  I can get at least a 10K training run effort from only 7K, if there are a few cliffs.

Ankles:  Sprained both several times (Senior A rugby, running, walking backwards near cliffs), lower achilles tendon issues (getting old) and arthritis (ditto).  Ankles have only caused an impact in one race (Niagara DNF).  Usually the pain is minor.

Feet:  Broken bone (skiing), Plantar Fasciitis (both feet, running).  Minor impact to running.

Head:  Probably no need to list this one, if you have read the above!

Nose:  Broken (rugby practice, rugby game, cross country skiing down a cliff, tobogganing down Mansfield ski hill at night)  People are always amazed that I have no sense of smell, with such a large shnoggan!  Oh, and broke it (actually just a fracture) downhill skiing out west.  Fell so hard, I could not lift my head off the snow as I slid down the hill, due to my broken neck.  While discussing it in the hot tub that night, some guy who had been quiet all week got very agitated and yell at me:  "Great!  It's people like you who make furrows in the snow with your nose and then I catch an edge and fall".

It's always the quiet ones!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Injured Again!

Denial and knees don't mix...  I have had little trouble with my right knee, but in the last 2 weeks, it has developed what I will optimistically call knee strain.  It hurts to walk.  It hurt to run (not all that much more than walking) and it is not getting better.  I did not run this weekend and the pain was very bad this morning, when I attempted to walk.  I have a limp...  You get the picture!

Cancelled the easy 7K trail run I had planned to test it...


Anyone know of any black market knees?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life in St. Catherines

Just spent 4 days at a house in a secret location, somewhere near Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Actually, the title contains a strong hint...

We try to visit NOTL 3 - 4 times per year, but they are usually short visits as the cost of accommodations is rather steep.  They usually want an arm and/or a leg, which can cramp your running.  In this case, we stayed at the house of friends (thanks Henri and Dirty Di!), who were away at some secret location near Creemore...

Taking a mini-vacation in southern Ontario in early November is akin to playing Russian roulette.  You are taking a big chance with the weather!  This extended weekend turned out to be glorious fall weather.  Lee Anne and I took advantage of it by running along the paved Niagara trail.  The trail, made famous by the Niagara Ultra Race, runs for about 50K from NOTL to Fort Erie, passing through Queenston and Niagara falls.  Large trees, big houses, views of the Niagara river and wineries make it a wonderful route for a training run.

After a DNF at Run for the Toad, I dropped my mileage considerably, for about 4 weeks.  This week's total was 40K, without significant pain, which is a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year.  Although I was not able to complete an ultra this year, I am already toying with signing up for the Frosty Trail Run, a 3 and 6 hour trail race on January 21, 2012, near Waterloo.  Organized by Patrick Campbell of the Horror Hill Race fame, the FTR might be a good gauge of how your 2012 training is progressing.  I might even be able to put a tick beside the "U" goal early!

Well, the short vacation draws to an end.  Back to work tomorrow, but looking forward to running trails in the dark.  It is actually quite invigorating to run with head gear, trying to gauge how far away you are from the howling coyotes and whether it would be wise to pick up the pace a tad.