Thursday, June 2, 2011

My new foot

I did feel much better after a day of slack. In fact, I did a little time trial and ended up running 3 minutes faster than I did last year. I mean !! I'm guessing that my new bionic foot is going to be an improvement over the old crippled one. Damn! Even though I felt a bit more fatigued than usual later in the day, I was still psyched to be running like that. I know my foot isn't quite at 100 percent yet, so I went for strong, steady and in control. Last year I was struggling with it. I knew I was out of shape, and I think I kept running outside of what I could manage, making hard runs even harder on all levels. Supposedly the course I ran is similar to running a 5k in effort, but I'm not sure about that. I could be a bit off on that, as I never quite figured out where the start line is supposed to be, only that it's somewhere around the little library on Table Mesa. The "course" goes from there to the top of NCAR. Last year I ran it in about 24 minutes. This time I was well under 21 minutes. I can't really see myself going out and running a 21 minute 5k though. It will be interesting to see what I can do down the road, but I don't think I'm in shape enough to translate an uphill run like that into a relatively fast 5k. Right now I'm just incredibly happy that my foot is coming along and I can run at all. From what the Dr. said, the minor swelling at night is nothing abnormal.

I don't remember if I went into all the gory details with my foot, but I thought I would do so now. I'm continually amazed that I was running the last few years. I guess I sort of got used to a level of pain, and accepted that my life would be like that. I would occasionally have moments where I would feel overwhelmed with it, but there wasn't a whole lot I could do. It all started when I had a stress fracture years ago. I assumed it was a stress fracture, because it felt like one and responded like one. My coach at the time and my PT also agreed it was likely a stress fracture. Eventually I thought putting it in a cast might be the best thing, so I went to see a podiatrist who very convincingly told me it wasn't a stress fracture. I argued that I thought it was. He insisted it wasn't, and said it was a neuroma. Of course when he said a shot of cortisone would get me running in three days, I was skeptical. Still, who wouldn't want to run in three days instead of having to wait three or more weeks? Well, two days later, I collapsed after my foot popped and I was flooded with intense pain. I went back to the guy who admitted he had no clue. A few days later I saw Dr. Jelinek in Boulder, who confirmed, guess what??- a stress fracture, and put me in a walking boot. It took some extra time to heal, but I was eventually back running, only my foot was never quite the same.

Apparently, cortisone is about the worst thing anyone can do when it comes to stress fractures, so over the next few years, my foot gradually got worse. From what I understand, the cortisone caused my tendons to deteriorate, and my entire foot shifted. Eventually severe osteoarthritis developed in 3 of the joints that was so bad the bones were starting to splinter. In fact, in one joint Dr Jelinek had to remove a portion of the bone. In the other joints, he was able to clear out the gunk and attach a super strong titanium/nylon stitching to the bone to take the place of my tendons. In short, I have a bionic foot. OK, not really, but it's better than being crippled.

Hrm. This is starting to be a bit of a boring post. The good news is that I'm still doing rehab, and things are coming along nicely. This is great, because I'm in kind of a weird place everywhere else in my life. As a result, I'm trying to focus on things that make me feel like I'm doing the right thing in life- writing, volunteering, running and doing some radio stuff. When things are so hectic in my life, these are the areas that keep me grounded and more happy. Fuck everything else. It's not that I'm unhappy at the moment, more that I'm confused and unsure of where I'm headed. Really, I'm excited about running and other things going on, I just have to not get ahead of myself, which can be all too tempting. Oh and therapy is going so well that I'm only supposed to go every other week. My therapist was happy to let me know that I truly am making progress. Wheww. That's a relief, because some of these issues were big, ugly and hairy. Obviously I have more work to do, and I'm sure different situations will bring up new issues. However, progress is progress. I'll take it.

I'm not sure what made me think of this, but my mom and I were talking the other day. I think I have mentioned a few times that my dad was a theoretical physicist. Sometimes I get caught up in the alcoholism and forget to mention all the very incredible things he was involved in and did. He was not involved in the Manhattan project, though he was asked, because he took a stand. He basically sacrificed his career because he was so anit-war. In addition to turning down Oppenheimer, he also turned down Teller, who worked on the hydrogen bomb, for the same reason. What my mom and I were discussing had nothing to do with this though. It turns out that my dad worked with Niels Bohr, who was eventually accused of being a communist, so Princeton sent him packing, despite the protests of my dad and several others. Eventually, Bohr would become one of the biggest proponents of determinism. This, of course, brings up Einstein and his famous quote. Often people think that Einstein believed in God, because his quote about how God doesn't play dice with the universe is taken out of context. He wasn't saying that to imply that there is a god. It was in reference to the universe being governed by deterministic laws, not by probability. My dad, of course, was in agreement. It's funny how people slightly alter the facts to support what they believe. I guess everyone does it on some level. I always come back to Harry Nilsson in The Point- "You see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear, dig?" I love that quote. Hee. Unfortunately, we all do it, which isn't so good though.

Well, I'm about to be late for my volunteer position, so I better jet. I got a call from a long lost but really good friend the other day. Her boyfriend proposed to her at the 50 mile mark of an ultra. She is awesome, and I'm incredibly happy for her, as she's one of those rare souls who always seems to exude happiness, kindness and tolerance. I thought I'd end on a good note, because a few of my last posts were not so uplifting.


  1. excellent post. Enjoyed hearing of your father too. Its always about courage isn't it?

  2. Thank you, High Mesa Fitness. Definitely - courage is where it's at, so to speak. :)

  3. I didn't know the foot history, so thanks. Coincidentally, I had a bit of a niggle in the top of my right foot near the end of yesterday's run. I'm sure it's nothing, but I worry about something suddenly going (not just the foot at my age).

    Sounds like you're starting to run well again. Hope the foot continues to do the right thing.

  4. Thank you, Ewen! I hope your foot is OK. I guess as we age, there's always worry that something will break, go on strike or start aching out of the blue. Hopefully we both have many good and pain free running years left though!

  5. Hey - glad to hear the foot is on the mend and that you are improving on that climb ... (that NCAR hill ain't too easy)

  6. Thanks so much, GZ! I seem to be loving my runs lately. The foot is definitely coming along nicely. :)

  7. In my early twenties I was up around 180 pounds. I am 5'7". I hated being chunky and went on a long diet eventually hitting my goal of 140 pounds. But 140 wasn't enough for my self esteem. I kept on losing weight. Eventually hitting 130 and then I crossed some sort of threshold. If 130 made me feel better than 140, why not go further?

    I am a guy. I had never heard of losing weight as being a problem. I pushed on. 125 and then 120. I don't know where the trigger "pulled" but I knew something was not right mentally. A friend made a joke that I couldn't walk by a donut shop without thinking I was going to gain weight.

    It was about two years after I had hit my healthy goal of 140. I was running and to run well, I needed energy. That may have saved me. With a great deal of effort I tried to stop. For whatever reason I realized that being really thin was tied up with how good I felt about myself. It just seemed wrong.

    It didn't have a name or not at least one I knew of.

    I fought back. I don't know how else to describe it. I slowly regained fifteen pounds with a great many false starts. I became a competitive runner settling in at about 135 pounds. I stopped stepping on the scale 2-3 times a day.

    Only later did I hear the word anorexia.

  8. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Last Runner Standing. I am so sorry you went down that road. Hopefully it's behind you, and it sounds like you are in a much better place with it. I also stopped weighing myself. In fact, I don't own a scale, and refuse to step on one, unless I'm not looking at the numbers!

    Unfortunately, anorexia and eating disorders are under-diagnosed in men, and many suffer in silence. I hope that more men come forward to remove some of the incorrect assumptions and the stigma that often is associated. A few men were willing to open up to me when I was conducting interviews for my book. I think the act of talking about experiences can be very helpful.

    Thanks again for your comment.