Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Western DNS

So, as my friends who read this already must know, I was a saddened DNS for Western States. Outside of the persistent lower back injury, I felt totally ready. However, as one friend put it, discretion is the greater part of valor, or however that saying goes.

For this record, the injury was incurred five weeks ago at the Jemez 50 Miler in New Mexico, likely as icannonballed down a ski slope at 10k, trying (successfully) to make a cutoff on a bad day on a tough course. I expected I'd recover, but there seems to be a major realignment type strain from the lower back, through the gluteal, to the hamstring. For three weeks, there was significant numbness and lack of feeling in my right foot, suggesting nerve damage. I saw the doctor, the chiro three times, and went for massage. I tried to get ready.

But then I did little test runs all the way up until the race, and significant pain was always immediately recognizable. The pain intensified in my lower back, so that after a mile or so I'd end up running cockeyed, leaning back or forwards and jogging off the calves, with a lump like pain growing in the glute and heat pain in the lower back. It just didn't work. If I could've knocked out a semi-pain free 10 miler, I probably would've started. Not to be.

I am content with the decision--it was the right call in pursuing the healthy life. It does suck, but there are worse things, and back surgeries are serious business.

So, i made a weekend of it just the same, checking out Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, and the race. A good decision. I hung with friends, and the race is exciting to take part in as crew, or just as a fly on the wall. I crewed for friend Charlie and friend Rich, and Charlie did absolutely textbook terrific, probably even exceeding his expectations, or so it would seem from his pre-race chatter.

Thanks to my awesome crew of Rich, Linda, Tanya, Mike, and BJ. I feel like everybody adjusted to my circumstances phenomenally, and the support during the period before Western was filled with care and understanding. Congrats too to all my friends who got down their and participated, either as runners, pacers or crew. Washington State did very well.

I'll get some pictures up soon enough--I've posted them on FB already, but am now on a second. trip, this time to the east coast for business and family. This post in fact is brought to you from the "friendly" skies ($6 for the fruit plate--how friendly is that?) on my new Ipad. Tech is something else--happy to be on the ride.

I'm leaving things open for now--the mountains will be there. I am registered for Waldo and Cutthroat, so I suppose those are good goals to hope for.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Considering Western

Yet another slow weekend for running.  The last couple weeks have included a manic effort to get my back healed for Western, which is next Saturday, as well as a busy time at work. I originally injured my back at the Jemez 50m in New Mexico about a month ago, and it feels like all the muslces in my lower back, right side, and hip and hamstring are all re-finding their place. I've been to the doctor, three times to the chiro, and for massage, and there's been some improvement, but right now WS isn't looking good.  It's been stressful and frustrating, as I've become emotionally invested in the effort.

There's that saying, if the bone ain't showing, keep going. I don't have a snappy rhymie response to that--maybe "if you're hurt, (talk to Bert?)(chirp chirp chirp?)(try to flirt?)(you'll lose your shirt?)--I don't know. Bottom line:  this sucks, because this is Western, because I was ready, because I had an absolutely wonderful team of friends to help, because it'll be years before I get in again, because it does. 

Nonetheless, there's reality. I want to be smart, healthy, and happy, and I want to act like it too. Western is a tough 100 miles. On Saturday, I hung out with my family for Holley's 30th, at Waverly Beach in Kirkland. The obvious became more obvious to me as I talked and hung out with them and their kids. Frankly, my internal debate seemed silly, especially since I don't even know if the whole thing has any room for debate. When I've tested my wheels this week, I've felt sufficient pain to want to stop after running downhill 100 yards. I could run further, but my body clearly was saying walk.

Hanging with the fam, I was reminded of cousin Paul and Terri's back problem histories, my cousin Neal's arm difficulties, cousin Kim's knees. I've been fortunate. A PT friend of Paul's jokingly encouraged me to run, telling me that doctors need patients to pay for their waterfront homes, and he has his own mortgage too--a kind and caring way of urging caution.

I'll keep stretching, and maybe things will turn for the better this week. I hope so, and now I need to leave myself open for that too, since the wind is blowing towards not running. I will definitely go for it if it at all seems realistic. However, right now I foresee myself slowing down, enjoying the summer, hiking in the North Cascades, and giving myself some time to fully heal. There is some comfort to the dissapointment in feeling like I am approaching the whole thing the right way, and I feel like I am.

Dave and Blake

Bryce, Paul and Dan

Aidan and friend, putting rocks in buckets and dropping in the water. Important work.

Neil and proud high school grad Keifer, examining a beer bottle

Saturday, June 12, 2010

14 Days

My lucky number is 14. Picked it at age 10 or so, after scoring 14 goals in a soccer season, and 14 was the number on my jersey.  And now, 14 days until the start line for Western. 21 days removed from Jemez, and still hurting in the back. I don't know.  Physically I feel ready, outside of the injury. The rest has probably done me good too. However, the pain is significant.

I saw a chiropractor yesterday. The chiropractor was good, and he is very hopeful about getting me whole. I told my Dad I was going, and he was like, oh, I wouldn't do that.  But it seemed good to me, and many have been pushing me to go. And today my foot is not numb, as it previously has been. But the back hurts. I'll return a few times, maybe see a massage therapist, do my due diligence. Due dilgence is legalspeak for my best.

I really wouldn't be too worried about it, except Western is such a hard race to get into. I am frustrated though, and I am bugged about being bugged about it, and this has been going on for a week or two now, and I'm ready to heal or move on. But I've had this event on my calendar all year, and there have been a lot of evenings and weekends in the hills.

It's like finals, or a big event on the calendar. No matter what you do or don't do, the clock just moves forward until you hit that date, ready or not. And then its done.

Makes me think of Whiskeytown's 16 Days, which for some reason I was thinking was 14 Days. It's a good song. "Ghost has got me running..."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Three Owls

Summer has been late to arrive this year, with the furnace still kicking in occasionally in June.  The weather was pretty nice tonight, though, and I decided I'd try to jog/run/move on my feet, on the horse trails behind Padden, despite my injury, or maybe because of it, and out of frustration to get out there. In any case, the run started out ok, but the pain is still localized, and it was frustrating, inasmuch as the rest of the body wanted to go, but there was a quite obvious pain to deal with.

I backed off.  After a mile, I turned to walking the trails. Moving slower, I came upon an owl sitting in a tree, 12 feet above the trail, the tree right next to the trail.  This is by the log that crosses the trail that you go under, after the big mud puddle pit. I started whistling at the owl, and he or she hissed and whistled back, cocking head while doing so. This went on for a while.

Soon, I recognized the same sort of hiss whistle to my left as well, and sought to locate the second owl, which I knew was there. Found the owl. After a while though, I honed in on a third distinct whistle. This one took longer to spot, but eventually I found it higher in a tree fifteen yards off. 

So, if I was a clock, the first owl was at 1:00, the second at 7:00, and the third at 9:00. The furthest away was 15 yards. Surrounded by three owls, in the same spot. That's a record for me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Walk In The Woods

Recovery comes slow this month. My Jemez race was two weeks ago today, and I still have a visible limp. I was walking into Starbucks the other day--limping that is, and this scraggly smoker guy sitting outside at the tables--he looked homeless--he jumps up and opens the door for me, with a very kindly smile, after watching me struggle across the parking lot. Now, I was touched by the generous act--it was unusual but completely sincere and not a solicitation or anything--he was just happy in the moment to help me in my disability. The kindness of strangers. But, it also kind of Sucked that my limp spoke so loudly.

I think that was Thursday morning. Thursday night I finally saw a doctor, which is not my thing, but everybody is telling me I need to talk to a pro, and I want to do My Best to heal. Plus, there was that latent concern that maybe I have a broken pelvis or coccyx, or a crusted kidney, or just a lard ass. Two hour wait to get down to the skivvies, and a $30 copay, but on the other hand, I got to see a doctor without an appointment, and see other sad sick people too.

Basically, the doctor thought I should take it easy, suggested maybe 50 miles is a little more than I should do at my age (you dumbass, I'm sure she thought), and gave me a prescription for ibuprofen and some sort of non-narcotic muscle relaxant. I joke, but she did give me some peace of mind too, inasmuch as she said I didn't have a hernia or anything more serious. Also, she was on her game---without me saying anything about it, she caught that all might not be well with my right foot, based on the old reflex test--where they crack you with the mallet below the knee. My foot wasn't responding as well as it should, which is consistent with the numbness I've felt there the last week.

Finally, today, I went out and moved around, hiking a loop around Blanchard in a little more than three hours, while the Blanchard 50k FA was going on. I didn't run much at all, as I would've been faking it and favoring wrong muscle groups. I just looked at ferns and trees and stuff, as I'm apt to do, and tried to remember the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven. Good to say hi and good morning to so many friends. There were probably about 20 runners, all regulars, or irregulars, as the case may be. And very good of Shawna and Alvin to keep the lamp burning on the run--thank you--after DNR blew it with Michael and Tamara's permit. Sorry to hear about the latter.

I actually felt ok this morning, and this afternoon I feel even better. Staying on my duff for a couple weeks, and then just stretching things out may be a good prescription for me. I'm feeling reasonably fit, and I ran a heavy May by my standards. If the muscles heal, I think I'll be ready for Western. If they don't, I can't do it. I couldn't do it this weekend, but as I said, I feel a little better this afternoon, and so I'm more hopeful now than I've been all week. 

And as to today, getting outside is so vital to me--I felt like a bit of a grouch at work this week, partly because of the muscle pain, partly because I hadn't been out, partly because of unwarranted  anxiety about WS.

After my walk in the woods, I dropped down to the MV raventment, and checked out the Farmer's Market. All the markets are finally getting going now. The Fairhaven one started this week too. I'd do a CSA, but I have friends who give me produce too. This year maybe I'll get a little more artful in my cooking of all the greens.

And...in the mail this week was my Pearl Jam Philly Spectrum boxset! Very nice! I caught the Halloween show--all 3 3/4 hours of it, and now I have it on cd! Why Go is suddenly a new favorite song of mine--that song aged really well.