Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Long & Winding Road Begins To Straighten

"Because they're better" - Steve Jones,'85, '86 Chicago Marathon champ when asked why the Kenyans have dominated the marathon

I had written a blog post last night for today, but decided to hold off on that one because this morning I ran Birmingham's signature running event - the 34th Vulcan Run 10k. I hadn't planned to write about it because I usually don't regard 10k's as being much more significant than a hard workout, and didn't expect to get overly excited. As a matter of fact, I didn't even plan to run it, except back in July, I ran the BAA 10k in Boston with my son, Michael, and got such a kick out of actually being able to finish a 10k in pretty good shape (in 1:03), that when I got home and saw early registration for Vulcan was only 20 bucks, I hopped on that like a hobo hops a train.

Without going into a long blog about the general demise of my running the past few years due to faulty ankle anatomy, let's just say that I went from a fairly competent ultrarunner to being a rather incompetent around-the-blocker. Pace sucked, distance sucked. In general, I was a joy to be around. So, about two years ago, I went to see a local sports doc here in Birmingham. For those of you with running problems, please do your homework and seek out a healthcare person that will understand what part of the twisted universe you're coming from. Anyway, she spent a long time with me, and although what she physically prescribed may have not turned things around directly, it got me to decide that I could go on limping along, or I could finally realize (after years of limping along) that I had to back peddle.

Maybe in a future blog, I'll detail my rather (continuing) convoluted road towards more comfortable running, but all I can say (and don't forget I'm a Physical Therapist, so I should know this stuff) is that if you give things time, sometimes much longer than you want, you do turn a corner and things seem better. It doesn't knock you on the side of the noggin like a baseball bat, but like in my case, you say "Hey, I am better than I was 6 months ago".

There has been no one big, giant light from heaven that improved me, but many little things all added up together over the past two years- cutting back more than 50% on my running, basically no long runs, being more consistent with certain supplements I believe do help, ice, ankle supports, and compression socks for recovery. One thing that was a huge help was that I didn't want to give up entirely my trail running, but it wreaked havoc on my ankles with all of that roots, rocks and whatnot. So, after some research (homework), I ordered some high-top Mountain Racing shoes from Merrell. They're slightly heavy, but weight was not the issue. I love them on the trail, but for sure not for everyone. The other huge help, although it is way too early to measure it's success, is that I finally ordered some Hoka Bondi B shoes. They're French (at least they're not Chinese), they're very hard to find East of the Mississippi (ordered mine from Colorado), they're expensive (I paid $168) and they are VERY MAXIMALIST. There are two ends of a Bell Curve - Vibram's are on one end and Hoka's are on the other end! From the first time I put them on, I have noticed a definite difference in the decrease of pounding my ankles take during a run. I ran the Vulcan 10k today in 59:35...not great by ANY stretch of my twisted imagination, but 4 minutes faster than July. What has me excited is that the only thing that bothered me during the run was that my speed was limited by my (lack of) race shape. It was not limited by my ankles feeling like pile-drivers or jackhammers hitting the pavement. Yey!!

Thanks for reading about my travails through injuryville (I promised myself not to write about my ouches, but that went out the window this morning). Hopefully, the long and winding road will continue to straighten out and hopefully, things won't go south where I'll send these shoes back to France. I'll keep you posted, but try to do it descretely.

Now, before I go any further, I want to remind all of you to turn your clocks BACK an hour tonight. I used to wait up till 2 o'clock in the morning to turn it back, but then somebody told me you can do it before you go to bed - what a great idea! So, now I pass that pearl along to all of you which makes the price of subscribing to RWA well worth it (free). If you forget to turn it back, and you show up at the NBC Building in the morning, I can't figure out if you'll come and find a parking lot full and wonder where everyone is, or you'll find the parking lot empty and you'll wonder where everyone is. Guess the best thing is to go ahead and set it back now (the heck with missing some of the Ala-LSU game - we're talking running here).

Sometime tomorrow morning, I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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