Saturday, June 15, 2013

Forced to take the rest of the year off due to injury

I thought I would write about my recent injury to let people know what happened.  I have spoken to many people in person and communicated over Facebook that I injured my ankle and was going to need surgery.  I was overwhelmed by the support and positive thoughts.  I will certainly look back on them throughout my lengthy recovery process.

There have been a few people who have said that I was going to get hurt eventually if I kept running these ultra marathons.  Actually, if I had just stuck to running, I would still be running today and never have needed this surgery.  Against my wife's better judgement, I decided to play on an adult arena soccer team.  It was in January during a game where the initial injury occurred.  I went to make a cut and my foot stayed place and the rest of my body twisted in the direction I was going.  So I didn't roll my ankle, it was more of a twisting injury.  I could tell immediately that something was wrong.

As the days went on, my ankle was very sore and it felt like it was jammed.  I started seeing Dr Corey Lichtman, a chiropractor who works with the San Diego Sockers (a professional indoor soccer team).  When I saw him I was a little stubborn and explained what happened and told him that I was hoping he could fix me to run in my next 100 mile race in a week.  He did the best he could and thankfully didn't tell me to stop running.  He advised me that I did need rest but he knew I was going to run no matter what.  So before the next race in February, Dr Corey taped up my ankle with RockTape and I ended up setting a PR of 20:58:00 in the Rohring Round the Clock 100 mile race.  Overall he did a great job treating me and continues to help me out in my recovery.

My ankle was sore after the race, so decided to take it easy, icing it as much as I could and running when things felt good.  I proceeded to run two more 100 mile races under 24 hours: Beyond the Limits 100 in March and Umstead 100 in April.

Umstead was in early April and my ankle was pretty sore afterwards so I didn't run very much for the remainder of the month.  I think I was averaging around 30 miles each week.  I started to incorporate more biking because there were times it just was too uncomfortable to run.  Then in early May I went out to run the PCT50.  I was unsure about this race as it was the first trail race I was going to run since my ankle was hurt.  Unfortunately, I had a problem early on.  Around mile 2, moving out of the way to let someone go by on the trail, I rolled my ankle.  I knew it was bad, as I felt a snap or pop and it hurt immediately to walk and run.  I made it through the next four miles to the first aid station and wisely dropped from the race.

At this point, it hurt to even walk.  I had a noticeable limp all the time.  A week went by before I started going to a recommended Physical Therapist and finally got x-rays.  The x-rays were fine.  The doctor didn't see anything wrong.  So I just kept going to the PT sessions that were 2-3 times a week so I could recover quickly: Western States and Badwater were on my mind.  This was going to be my first year running Western States and the fourth year in a row running Badwater.  

Nearly 4 weeks passed with no improvement at all.  This is when I went to see Dr Garrett Tallman, a recommended ankle and foot specialist to get an MRI.  The MRI results were not good.  The results were a 5cm longitudinal split tear of the peroneus brevis tendon and a 1cm osteocontral lesion of the medial talar dome.  Basically I had tendon damage and damaged the cartilage in my joint. I researched these injuries, and surgery seemed to be the only option.  When I went to the doctor for his interpretation, surgery was the recommendation.

I didn't hesitate to agree, because the sooner I got the surgery, the sooner I could get on with the recovery.

The surgery overall went well.  The doctor and his staff took great care of me. They did however find that the damage was worse than they expected from the MRI.  The tendon was not just split, it was also ruptured completely.  The cartilage had come completely detached and was floating around.  The surgery took closer to 3 hours than the originally planned 2 hours.

Just waking up from surgery in the recovery room

My conclusion is that the injuries were a result of the combination of events from January to May.  The long distances didn't cause the injury but they didn't help either.  It is my assumption that the initial injury was worse than I thought it was.  I think I could have split the tendon then and continued to weaken the ankle area.  Then the last race I believe I actually ruptured it.

The surgeon's plan is 2 weeks in a surgical splint, followed by 6 weeks in a fiberglass cast, and then 4 weeks in a boot before starting physical therapy.  The initial 6-8 weeks would be no weight-bearing at all.  Danika will be my chauffeur, nurse, and waitress.

My plan is to take the rest of 2013 off, and pray for a 2014 comeback.

Day 3 (Sunday) moving around the house on the knee scooter

Day 4 (Monday) walking around on my hands free crutch from

Saturday, January 26, 2013

HURT trail 100 mile run "Not for the weak"

January 19, 2013 I joined the HURT family for the 3rd year in a row to do the 100-mile run. The race takes place on the island of O'ahu in the Makiki trail system. These trails are beautiful and give some amazing views of the island. The race is five twenty-mile loops, with about 5,000 feet of cumulative elevation accent and decent per loop.

HURT really does hurt. The course will definitely humble you.  The statistics prove it with just a 43% finish rate this year.

Overall I had a great race, finishing 40 minutes better than last year.  I finished 38th out of 122 starters in 34:09:00. I'm also very pleased with how focused I was. Not once did I get tired, negative, or have any doubts. I had a great team helping me in Dave Easa and Sonja Billes. They met me at all the aid stations and they took turns running with me through me through the night and second day.

As hard as it was, the HURT family is amazing.  The volunteers at all the aid stations were wonderful.  There were a few times that I even had to be reminded to get moving because I was being too social.

Running through Punaho Flats - Photo by Rob Lahoe

Punaho Flats - Photo by Rob Lahoe

At the finish with my crew after 34 hours.  (R to L) Dave Easa, me, and Sonja Billes

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recap of my running in 2012

In 2012, I logged over 2,500 miles - and with a couple of months that went by where I failed to actually log the miles, I'm certain I was over 3000 miles.  I did 7 100+ mile races this year - more than I have ever done.  Although I was very pleased with my success in all of the races, I hope to improve upon all my performances and maybe even fit in a few more races in 2013.  Here are some of the highlights of 2012:

All the belt buckle bling for 2012

HURT100 (Hawaii) - 34:48:00 January 14, 2012
There is nothing like starting off the year with possibly the hardest one of all.  In 2011, I could not complete 100 miles of this race, and dropped down to the 100k, so in 2012 I was coming back for redemption.  This race consists of about 25,000' of elevation (cumulative ascent and descent) over the 100 miles.  The five 20-mile loops are mentally challenging as well.

I came close to the 36-hour cutoff, but was able to finish with the help of my friend Jason Davis every twenty miles at the main crew station.  Never underestimate how much mental, physical and moral support a good crew can give you over the course of a difficult race.

I finished it this time!

Rocky Road 100 (Mission Viejo, CA) - 23:34:34 Feb 18, 2012
The Rocky Road 100 came at a difficult time in my schedule.  I was traveling a lot for work, which took a toll on my training.  I was actually in Japan the week before the race, and didn't get home until 2 days before race day.  I am used to having jetlag when I get back from Japan, but I don't normally have to run a 100-mile race while experiencing it.  Most of the time if I get tired during a 100-miler, it is during the early morning hours.  This time, I was getting tired at 3pm, just 8 hours into the race.  This was not a good sign, and it led to me taking two 30 minute naps in the back of my truck.  But, I was able to suck it up and finish the race.  I have to give a shout out and thanks to Mike Muenzer  who I had met for the first time that evening as he pushed me through the last 25miles.

Nanny Goat 100-mile (Riverside, CA) - 22:52:58 May 26, 2012
Nanny Goat is one of my favorite races.  Some might not agree with me as the race consists of running a one mile loop over and over, but I find it very entertaining because you can see and get to know all the runners, volunteers, and spectators.  It is also a very family friendly course, as friends and family can run a mile or two with you without committing to a 20-mile loop.  My wife ran 3 miles with me my first year, and my kids have run it the 2nd and 3rd year that I ran it (Maya ran 9 and 11 miles, Chase ran 7, then was sick).  They especially enjoyed running late at night with headlamps.
Its a party at the Nanny Goat 100/24hr

San Diego Rock 'n Roll marathon  - ~3:51:00 June 3, 2012
A week after Nanny Goat, I found myself running the SD Rock 'n Roll Marathon.  This was a last minute thing, as my friend Iso called me Saturday night before the race and asked if I wanted to pace with him.  "What the hell?" I said.  I was able to hang on to his 3:40 pace group until about mile 17, when I started slowing down.  Trying to keep up with a faster pace than I'm used to made me more sore than I was the previous week running 100miles.

What am I doing here?
San Diego 100 - 27:08:00 June 9, 2012
I wanted to fit this race into the schedule since it was so close to home.  I went into it taking it for granted, but this turned out to be a challenging course with some decent climbs.  It helped to have the support of Jason Obirek as my crew.  To my surprise, Iso came out to pace me the last 50 miles.  This was a big help because during the night I could really feel the past few weeks catching up to me and making my legs feel pretty tired.  Iso was a hard ass, but it was what I needed to keep moving forward.
At the start.  Go time!
Running through the finish with Iso.

10k with Maya - July 4, 2012
This was a fun relaxing run (for me) with Maya in her first10k.  She decided that although she enjoyed running 5k's, 10k's are not her favorite distance.
She just edged me out at the finish line

Badwater 135 - 32:45:26  - July 16, 2012
Badwater...there is just something about it that keeps calling me back.  This was my third year in a row running through Death Valley.  This year was a lot of fun, as the crew just seemed to be dialed in.  Sometimes it felt like one big party.  They also pushed me hard to try and reach my goal of sub-30hrs.  Even though we fell short, I still improved nearly 2 hours over the previous year.
Let's get the party started now guys!

100 Mile Urban Endurance Run (Southern California) - 22:28:00 - October 20, 2012
This race was put on by a great organization called the 100mile Club (Featured in the January 2013 issue of Runners World).  This run was different in the fact that it was run through the cities of the greater Los Angeles area.  It started in Corona and finished in Santa Monica.  It was pretty much a self-supported race, and I was fortunate to have a few good friends join to support me though the race.  There were plenty of things to keep us focused like traffic, some verbal domestic disputes, a full-on brawl in the middle of the street at 3am, and literally people around every hour of the race.  My kids were able to run with me at night (Chase ran 5-6 miles, Maya 9 or so).  I really enjoyed this one.
Getting some family support for a few miles. 
A great team (L to R: Michael, Angela, myself, and Jason)

Across the Years 24-hr (Glendale, AZ) - 102.88 miles - December 29, 2012
To finish off the year, I decided to take a road trip with Jason Obirek and run one last race.  It was a one-mile loop at the Dodgers and White Sox training facility, which was really nice.  It was a good time.  I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold, and I think I nearly froze out there.  I was surprised to actually get the 3rd male award for the 24hr.  The weekend consisted of several people breaking records in the 48hr and 72hr events - I think they were trying to outrun the cold!
Running a few miles with Ed "The Jester" Ettinghausen