Well, I Always Did Like The Pool

by Brian

Well, this wasn’t the update I was expecting to send, but alas, here it is. I have to take a break from the roads for a bit, how long I am not sure yet. I ran a 16 miler this weekend on the marathon course in Boston and for the most part, I felt awesome. I’ve been having issues with my hip flexors since I began training, so those were bothersome on the run. The peroneal ligament in my right foot has a mind of its own and decides when it will or will not act up. It was pretty pissed on Saturday but I still managed to finish pretty strong. I’ve also been battling an anterior tibial muscle for a few months now and never got it to calm down. I was able to loosen it up before every run to make the discomfort manageable and it usually gets pretty quiet once I am warmed up. Well, I guess it decided to be heard loud and clear this weekend.

It was a really cold day, probably around 10 degrees with the windchill but I felt awesome, especially through the first 8 miles. We started from about the 13-mile mark on the course in Wellesley and ran up Heartbreak Hill and down to the back edge of Bahstan Cawledge. I remember telling one of the Boston Children’s families working a water station that I hoped to feel as good as I did when I got to the top of Heartbreak in April. As soon as I turned around to head back, I quickly realized we had been running with a tailwind the entire time. Well…not so much for the next 8 miles.

Also, Wellesley? Your hills are terrible, just an FYI. That sucker on the way back seemed like Everest. I am glad I only have to run down them in April.

Once I got back to the top of Heartbreak, at about mile 10, I started to feel a little twinge in my left shin but didn’t think anything of it, as I always have some aches and pains. I made my way down the steep part of the hill and stopped at a water station. I noticed the pain was pulsing a bit but as I usually do, I didn’t pay much attention. I thanked everyone for the slushy Gatorade and frozen M & M’s and shoved off. I made it about 100 meters before I felt a searing pain shoot through the edge of my tibia. I stopped dead in my tracks and just uttered the words,

“No…”

I stood there for a couple of minutes while I massaged the area, hoping it was just an angry muscle. I had a similar pain once before, back during an indoor track season in college. I hesitated a bit, took a step, and then another and gradually picked up my speed. It was now dull but I could still feel it. So, I did the smart thing and decided to bag my long and easy plan and just rip it on back to Wellesley. I actually felt really strong over the last few miles and also absurdly cold. By the time I got back to the church where everyone meets, I could feel my shin shouting at me. It wasn’t so much a deep throbbing pain that I experienced in college but more of a sharp shooting sensation every time I took a step. So, I decided to go back and shower before making myself feel better by going to Felipe’s Taqueria in Harvard Square and eating two burritos. I mean, that’s what normal people do, right?

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Yup. And I was still hungry after I hammered them. Don’t judge me. Also, if you are as obsessed with burritos as I am, why don’t you head on over here.

You’re welcome.

Walking back to my car, I felt the shooting pain every time I took a step, so I started to get a little worried. I was hoping some time off my feet would let the muscle settle down, but after a two-hour ride home, it was still there.

When it comes to injuries, as you may have noticed in previous posts, I tend to wait until things are pretty mangled before I call my docs. Well, I couldn’t get to the phone fast enough on Monday morning, making an appointment for that afternoon. In the meantime, I broke out this…

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I think this picture needs some background music. So, just play this while staring at my old friend.

O.K., that’s a bit melodramatic but it is a smashing tune.

Anyway, I took the above photo while waiting for an x-ray, which I am well aware rarely shows what I am dreading. . . a stress fracture. Now, I am a bit optimistic, as the pain is nothing like the stress fracture I had in college. You could have dropped a feather on localized pain and I would jump. They actually hit a tuning fork on the bench next to me and put it on my shin. I am pretty sure I broke nearby windows with the yell I let out. This time around, it’s nowhere near that level of pain. I mean, there is definitely something there, so I am hoping it’s a) an angry nerve b) muscle or c) just a stress reaction.

**Since I started writing this, my doc called and said the x-ray looked normal, but I know that doesn’t mean much. Up next: bone scan, which is how they usually find them. Also, since I started writing this a few days ago, I was told to stretch my left calf on one of those incline boards as my soleus and gastroc were bound tight as a drum. Unfortunately, while doing that, I felt a lot of pain in the achilles region. Since then, it’s been really painful and feels like a pull or strain…I hope.

I was gutted for about half a day or so and then snapped right back to focus on what I needed to do in order to maintain my fitness and get ready for the day I can lace up the sneakers again. So, I did what anyone would do and took to Twitter. There, I got a boost of confidence from one of my favorite athletes who just happens to be battling a similar injury:

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For those who don’t follow international track, Nick Willis is a legendary middle-distance runner from New Zealand. He’s also famous for his outspoken beliefs on doping and calling other pros out. And, he’s known for being a super nice guy. I few other pros responded to the thread and offered some pool running workouts to do. With that, I dug up an old, ridiculously small bathing suit and headed to the therapy pool in my gym. Luckily enough my gym has a physical therapy office attached to it so they installed a pool where people can rehab.

I must have looked annoyed or worried during my first few intervals as the other guy aqua jogging looked up and asked if I was injured as well. I said I was and continued to be annoyed at the fact that I had to be in a pool.

“This is great, isn’t it?”

Um, no?

“This is a blessing, man.”

Not going anywhere except slowly in a circle for the next hour, I indulged.

“Why do you say it’s a blessing?”

And that started an hour-long conversation about luck, injuries, and how we both have always chosen to fight back despite many setbacks. Only my injuries are nothing compared to what he has been through.

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That’s Poocho, in the bottom right corner. He was paralyzed for 3 months after a drunk driver hit his car. He learned to walk again and jogs in the pool every day for a few hours after running his bakery from 3am-3pm.

Needless to say, I was humbled. While I have always had a positive attitude when it comes to injuries and setbacks, I needed a little bit of a reminder Monday night. So, he stayed there with me and we finished the workout together. If our schedules line up, we are going to train together as often as possible.

So, that’s that. I wish I had better news but it is what it is. I do know one thing, though. I will, without a doubt, turn right on Hereford and left onto Boylston come April 16th. You can bet on that.

In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be here. . .

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…being creepy and doing high knees in a speedo for hours a time.

-B

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