Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Meniscus Blues

The good news is that I am apparently pretty proficient at reading images from an MRI. The bad news is that I have a medial meniscus tear in the posterior horn on the medial side. How did this happen?!

Well, I think I have some idea. You may recall a couple of blog posts ago, I didn't exactly train for the Saint George marathon. Also, you may recall in my last post, the Saint George marathon was mostly down hill (especially at the end when my muscles were tired).

I think a combination of those 2 things has lead to a tear in the meniscus in my right knee. I noticed some pain after the marathon and didn't really bother worrying about it until a week afterward. I felt pain on the medial side of the right knee and it didn't really get too much better. I could walk fine but it seemed kind of irritated. I went to PT and to an ortho and he recommended an MRI. They actually handed me the DVD of the images afterward and in the time between the scan and my appt I became an amateur MRI expert. I knew going into my meeting today that I had some kind of tear and where it was.

Turns out it is a horizontal undersurface tearing involving the posterior body segment medial meniscus. I also have some grade 2-3 chondral fissuring of the lateral weight bearing medial femoral condyle. What that means is

1. I have a tear in the cushion between my 2 main leg bones. It is likely degenerative in nature and not something that would (or should) be solved surgically. The prescription is to diversify training (including yoga) and do more leg strengthening.

2. Also, i have grade 2 (mild) or 3 (moderate) degeneration of part of the cushion as well. If i get to stage 4, it could be problems. So the prescription is the same.

There is actually no evidence that the tear occurred because of the marathon nor is there evidence that the degeneration is due to running. In fact, it is quite likely that I would have similar or possibly nearly as sever degeneration just from being alive and moving. That being said, if I make some changes I should be ok and running again fairly soon. The tear may have been there for years and only got irritated by the marathon. This guy seems to know what I am going through. And this is also an excellent explanation as to why it hurts, how long it will hurt, etc.

What I am going to do is the following:
1. Skip Las Vegas this year. I did 2 marathons this year already, Las Vegas is in 2 weeks and I already limped into a marathon this year. I regret trying to cram these in anyway. I love doing them and I have like 9 left. Plus, cramming them actually may cause issues. So, i'll lose some money but canceling a marathon due to injury is not an unheard of thing for me (see Ann Arbor). My mom pointed out that maybe going to Las Vegas this year (due to the shooting) wouldn't be the best. Also, I was just literally in Las Vegas when I flew in for Saint George 2 weeks ago.

2. I do yoga now! I went once already and go again tomorrow. It's healthy and something I can do with Emily!

3. PT with Jaime for a while, leg strengthening

4. Purchase leg compression sleeve. Done.

5. Get good at swimming. I did 3 miles last week (a record) and hope to do 4 this week.

6. Gradually start running again and build up for possibly a half marathon in December or at the very least a half marathon at the beginning of spring season (February'ish).

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ain't it Grand!

I don't know how I did that, but I did that! If you read my last post, you know that I was essentially positive I was going to feel massive pain the entire race and probably not finish. I hadn't done a long run for the first time for a marathon (>16 miles) and I basically didn't run for a month (i jogged but didn't run since my 1/2 marathon in VA in the beginning of September.) So what happened?

I flew in to Vegas and had a quick look around. It was eerie seeing the Mandalay Bay where the shooting took place the week before. There were FBI and police EVERYWHERE. I headed down the strip and saw a make-shift memorial with lots of mourners out. From there I drove out to St. George. There aren't a lot of St George pictures because there wasn't much there. They had a Mormon cathedral that was pretty and had some of the only grass in town. I'm not a huge fan of the desert motif so that typically gets old fast for me.

As for the race, they bused us up 26.2 miles at about 3:45 AM and it was FREEZING at the start. They had some small fires but not enough for the 6,000 people there. After shivering for about 2 hours, it was time to start the race.

I told myself that if I ran above a 7 minute first mile, I didn't deserve to finish. And I took that advice. I ran a 7:20, 7:20 for the first two miles. Those would turn out to be my slowest miles of the race! The race is very NOT downhilll the first 15 miles. In fact, it had 1 very memorial uphill into the sun. But my biggest surprise was that after the first mile, I didn't have any posterior tibial pain. I told myself to check in at mile 4, 8, 12, and 16. If i took advil before 8, it was a bad day, if i took it at 16, that's a normal day. And as it turned out, i took it at 16 (Actually 15 but that was for water purposes). 

I got stronger and stronger as the race went on. I was able to fight through the typical late mile mental hurdles and finished with a 3:07! I was definitely helped by the downhill sections, but I could have easily broken 3:06 if i didn't jog the first 2. This is definitely a PR course. 

During the race, I just concentrated on the normal gait (as described in the chart below). This helped me concentrate on foot placement on my foot strike. 

I outpaced a guy at the end with a kind of gallop (since my calves were ceasing up as per typical at the end). It felt good beating folks again!

After the race, I quickly showered and headed on down (a 5 hour car ride) to the Grand Canyon! I hung out in the village that night and then went for a 3 hour mule ride on the edge of the canyon. I was given "Big Steve" who is a 1700 lbs mule. A guy on the trail walked up and announced that Steve looked like a Clydesdale. He was a biggie alright. Had a great time. Here is Steve and I on the very edge looking over.

Next up, its back to Vegas in a month with Emily! Its a unique evening/night time race which should be fun. It's the desert so it will likely get cooler as the race goes on (which should be ideal for me). We'll see!

Thursday, October 5, 2017


The beginning of half season was so good! I killed a half marathon up in Virginia. I ran a 1:26 which for the first of the season is best ever! Then the next day, i turned my ankle at Special Olympics...

It's been a month since and I have been rehabbing ever since. I fly out to St George for the marathon tomorrow morning and I am having some serious doubts. I was unable to complete my long run 2 weeks ago. I thought I was better but did a tune up run last night (just 4) and it hurt. The only bright side was that it was on the anterior of the left ankle whereas previously I was feeling some posterior tibial tendinitis or soreness. This is my bad ankle... the one that i always sprain or develop problems in.

So now I am on hold to see if I can cancel flights and hotels this late in the game. I have a feeling the answer is no. I think I can be hook or by crook finish the marathon on Saturday. I do worry about doing damage or even at the very least not having a fun day. I have 10 of these left and I would hate to just do it to do it.

That being said, since the pain in the ankle is in a new place, it could be caused by me overdoing the stretching/band work I have been doing this week. If that's the case, it may be 100% on Saturday.

I've been to the Podiatrist (nothing broken, no permanent damage by running according to him) and physical therapy and I think I can finish. Oh, and I'm going to the Grand Canyon! So that should be fun. Just need to gut it out on Saturday. It may actually be my most difficult marathon challenge to date...

Monday, July 31, 2017

My Manifest Destiny

Where did the year go? Did i really forget to blog about everything for the first 7 months of the year? Yes. Yes I did. Whoops!

Ok, so what have I been up to? I ran the Big Sur Marathon! Emily and I went to California and it was amazing! We started out in Carmel close to the race finish. Emily did the 5k! After the race, we went up to San Francisco and stayed in Haight-Ashbury. We did all the touristy things there including biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, going to Muir Woods, Wine tasting in Napa Valley, seeing the Full House house, and riding on the outside of a cable car!

Did i mention the marathon? It was beautiful. I made the decision to job it and really enjoy the views. Not worrying about my time was a good choice since it was probably the most challenging marathon I have done. But to me it was a bit of a culmination of all the effort of my 50 state challenge. California was always the goal (at least in my minds eye) as I worked my way across the country. Since I have so few races left, I don't have a lot of control as to when I can do some (especially the ones that have lotteries like this one). There are some big marathongs left for sure, but fewer and fewer.

Speaking of other marathons, I have 2 more in 2017: St George in Utah in October and then Vegas(baby) in November. I plan on taking some time after the St George marathon to see the Grand Canyon. I have booked a donkey ride (not the 2 day ride, just a 3 hour). I hope to get a good feeling for the Grand Canyon village and that part of the country. Then in November, Emily and I will be heading to Vegas for what will likely be one of the most unique races in the country. An early evening start time on a Sunday. Super strange!

But in the mean time, its triathlon season! Its been a bit of a strange season actually. I did 3 small sprints and then took about 3 weeks off to go to Italy (!) It was amazing, but hasn't exactly helped my times. My swim is the most off even still. I have done 2 other sprints since I have been back and I am picking up speed, but not where I was last year (when I killed Lake Logan). I'm skipping that race this year anyway and have 3 more tri's before it will be time to turn to halves and fulls starting in September.

Even though there are lots of trips planned (past and future), I still could end the year with a decent number of total races (mid 20's) which would be right up there. With 10 marathons left, I am trying to figure out if its feasible to make a run for sub 3. I'm not sure I have the desire to put the training in and/or if my 39 year old body will let me do it. I'm not super concerned about it though. I'm just happy to be able to keep competing even in small, local races.

More to come soon (well, at least not in 7 more months!)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Goodbye 2016

Today, January 2nd, is my 39th birthday. Birthdays are reflective by nature and mine may be more so than most since it lands so close to New Years. This being my athletic blog, I can't help but reflect on what went well, not so well in 2016 from an athletic perspective. Statistically and in many ways, 2016 could be considered my best year yet!

First off, I ran more races in 2016 than I ran in any other single year ever. This was completely on purpose. I started out running half marathons every other week in the late winter. I need to remember that racing every other weekend is the ideal cadence for me. I made the mistake of racing too often in the fall and saw declining times that were almost certainly attributable to the number of half marathon races I was doing. 

In the late winter/early spring, I was able to get my PR down from 1:24 down to 1:21! I consistently was keeping my times in the 1:22 - 1:23 range. The 1:21 I ran happened to be at the race with the largest dollar purse I have seen locally for a half marathon. I ended up winning the race and got a $500 purse! In all, I got 3 overall 1st place finishes in 2016 (also I got 1 place and 1 show). I got 23 top 3 AG finishes (only failing to do so in 4 races all year). 

I was first in my age group for more races than I was NOT first in my age group this year (14 vs 13). 

I ran 2 marathons this year. I got 38th overall at Des Moines (a race where the first 6 runners were professional, Eastern African marathon runners). At the Deadwood Marathon, I came back and got 4th place overall.

According to USA Triathlon, 2016 was the best year I ever had for Triathlon. My average score for 2016 was 83.578 (a higher score than even I received in 2012 when I was on Team USA). My best race by far (and maybe the race of my life) was when I ran a 2:18:26 for the Lake Logan International race. In that race, i PR'd for the 1500 meter swim and the 40 KM bike (strangely, my run was much slower than I ran at Lake Logan a few years earlier when I broke 40mins in the 10k). 

More than anything else, I'm blessed and very grateful to have remained healthy for the year. I hope I can continue to enjoy running/triathlons in the New Year and years to come and to stay happy and healthy doing so!