Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Injury update / what's next

The last time I posted I was "wracked with injuries." My left knee and Achilles were killing me, and I had a sore right arch. As the saying goes, time heals all wounds. In my case, time is in the process of healing my wounds. My knee is about 90 percent and my arch pain is long-gone. My left heel, however, has presented many problems and is only now getting better.

Last week I saw my sports medicine specialist, Dr. Susannah Briskin, at University Hospitals, where I am proud to work. I had tried to "run through" and treat the heel pain, which I had self-diagnosed as Achilles tendonitis, but eventually I realized that nothing I did was working. The pain got worse and worse and there were times when I felt the tendon was going to come apart. I cut back my mileage to about 40 per week, avoided hills and even took a few days off here and there. The situation got so bad that I turned to Dr. Briskin.

Armed with x-rays and having examined my heel, Dr. Briskin diagnosed me with heel bursitis--good news, all things considered. My Achilles, she said, was very sound and really all I had was inflammation of the bursae sack between the tendon and heel bone. She gave me some temporary heel lifts, told me to continue with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation), prescribed dexamethasone (an anti-inflammatory), and told me to see Gordon in the UH physical therapy department. Gordon would administer the dexamethasone through a process called iontophoresis.

I saw Gordon this morning and received my first dose of the dexamethasone, a cortisoid. This will help reduce the inflammation and promote healing. The good news is that, going into the appointment with Gordon, I was already feeling better and am now hoping the dexamethasone will deliver the knockout punch to the lingering inflammation. I will see Gordon a few more times for additional doses of the dexamethasone.

This heel bursitis has been a real saga--similar to but not as bad as the knee injury I dealt with after the 2008 Mohican 100. The only difference was that after Mohican I had resolved to return to the 2009 race and do bigger and better things (which I did with my win); whereas now I'm pretty certain that I won't be doing any more 24-hour loop races for a long, long time. I think few good things are going to happen when you run a .9-mile loop 145-plus times. You run a huge risk of major overuse injuries. Maybe when I'm in my 50s I'll look at another 24-hour, but for now I'll stick to distance-based races up to the 100-miler.


This brings me to my newly revised 2010 racing schedule, which I'm still developing. Yesterday, I registered for the 2010 Boston Marathon, which will be run on April 19. I ran Boston in 2006 and 2007 and took 2008 and 2009 off. I missed Boston both years and am excited to return in 2010.

When I last ran Boston, I was a 50-mile-per-week runner who didn't do a whole lot of speedwork or tempo runs. Today, I'm very different. I often hit triple digits in my weekly mileage and am a disciple of speedwork, tempo runs and hill training. With all of that said, my goal for the 2010 Boston Marathon will be to set a new marathon PR (current PR is 2:58) and, if I get in the right training and am healthy, go south of 2:55. I believe that with strong, well conditioned legs and good aerobic capacity, Boston is a PR course. My Boston training will begin in earnest on January 1. Between now and then, I'm going to cover 60-70 miles per week and continue cross-training on the indoor bicycle trainer that Tim C. loaned me (it's excellent and puts my bike to good use!). Better to go into my Boston training fresh than worn down.

After Boston, I'll recover for a week or two and then transition into my Mohican Trail 100-Mile Run training. I'll have a solid base from Boston training (80-90-mile weeks with lots of quality) and will look to ramp up the mileage big time in May and early June to prepare for the 23,000 feet of climb and descent that Mohican mercilessly throws at you.

Along the way, I may run in the Youngstown Half Marathon in early March and potentially the Lt. JC Stone 50K in Pittsburgh also in March. I will not be running the Forget the PR Mohican 50K, which happens on Boston Marathon weekend, and will instead go to Mohican on a Friday in May or early June (day off from work) for an all-day training run on specific areas of the course.


Gordon asked me what drives me in my running. I didn't have a good answer, and it was a fair question. What drives any ultrarunner to do such distances as 100-plus miles? It could be any number of things. All I can say is that it's who I am. I love to run, compete with my legs and mind and heart, and battle the trails. I also love marathoning, but when passion comes into play we're talking about running 100 miles on hilly trails in wooded areas. One day maybe it'll be trails in canyons and mountains.

All in.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your experiences with bursitis - I'm fighting it right now myself.

    I am reluctant to get drugs, but so far icing, heel pads, and reduction in hills helps.