Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Parody Song

It's been up for several days, but there's a link on the right side of this page that takes you to another page where you can download one of my running-related parody songs for free. The song is called Runnin' So I Can Eat (based on the old Tom Petty song, Runnin' Down A Dream) and is the final track of my new collection (available for purchase; link also on the right of this page). I played all instruments (except drums) on this track. I'm not a pro, but I had fun!

So feel free to download it, if you haven't already.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ab Out Time, Week 2

For those of you who are interested in following my Don Quixote Windmill Tilting quest for the elusive 6-pack abs on my other blog, here's the latest installment.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ab Challenge

Okay, Chris K, I've taken your challenge! I just created a new blog to document my quest for a sharp 6-pack. Check it out here, and follow my journey, through good, bad and (hopefully not) ugly!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Gil Sings Christmas Songs

(what else is an injured runner supposed to do?)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Ear Pollution

Yes, it's on every runner's holiday shopping list — the new parody song collection, More Ear Pollution. Click on the link in the right column to hear samples of each song. Please consider purchasing the new collection (or the old one..or both) to help a poor, injured runner pay his medical bills!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Passing The Torch

I couldn't have asked for a better way to hang up my running shoes for awhile. This morning, my oldest daughter and I ran the 2-mile Fowl Fun Run in Mount Vernon, WA. I ran the 10k there last year and really enjoyed it. At that race, both of my daughters said they wanted to run the 2 mile ”next year“ (meaning this year), but my youngest unfortunately got sick yesterday and wasn't able to make it.

Rain was in the forecast, but a drop never fell all morning. It was overcast and in the upper 40's at race time, but felt a little cooler due to a persistent wind.

My job was to pace Natalie through the race and see what she could do, both time-wise and age-group-wise. My loose goal for her (based on what I've seen her do in training) was to run sub-18 minutes. We hit the first mile in 8:35. I kept pulling a bit too far in front of her, so I backed off a few times while still encouraging her to keep her form clean and hold the pace. With about a half mile left, we saw a girl we knew was in her age group starting to take walk breaks. I turned to Natalie and said “here's where we pass her.” We did just that, and picked up the pace. With about 100m left, there were two young boys in front of us. Natalie took off (leaving me in the dust) in an attempt to chick them. One beat her, but she beat the other one. I stayed behind the three of them and crossed a second later. Natalie ran a nice negative split (8:34 second mile) to finish in an official 17:23. And, best of all, she came away with an age-group victory (out of 7 girls)*

To me, this was more important than the time. At the start of her running career, it's great to provide some opportunities for her to build her confidence and her enthusiasm for running. Not every race will offer a chance for a division win, but a few of these results here and there should keep the fire stoked nicely.

Needless to say, I'm proud — elated — with her performance. It was special to finally run my first road race with one of my kids. If she continues down this path, there will come a time (fighting it as I might) where she will “chick” me.

Dad, with ”the Champ”
When I'm at a road race, immersed in the atmosphere, I'm always reminded how much I love this sport. I feel like I belong to this group of people, diverse as they (we) may be. Any bitterness I may have felt upon my official diagnosis has passed, but as you'd expect, I'm a bit sad that this will be the end of my running for awhile. However, I'm also excited to start down the road to recovery and get back out there, healthy and ready for...re-resurrection!

In the meantime, I'll run vicariously through you, my friends, and my future star daughter (sorry, no pressure intended)!

*and, in a random drawing, she won a HUGE pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MRI Results

Well, the culmination of my foot frustrations came to a head today, with a meeting between my sports medicine doctor and me. The MRI results are in, and the diagnosis isn't a big surprise to me.

As I mentioned previously, there is a bone deformity on (or as a part of) my right heel. The MRI not only confirmed that, but it also showed the resulting damage to my Achilles tendon. The “Tendinosis” was caused by the tendon rubbing up and down over the protruding bone growth on the back and top of my heel. He also pointed to an “Equinus” (tight calf muscle & Achilles tendon) as a factor which increases the tension of the tendon, thereby exacerbating the damage. He told me to envision a rope being grabbed from both ends, pulled taught, and rubbed back and forth over a sharp corner of a counter.

There are two paths of treatment. One involves surgery (I'll explain that later). The other is a conservative approach, and the one I'll be taking, based on my doctor's recommendation. It's a 3-phased plan. Phase 1 is Rest & Protection. I'll be in a walking boot for 3 weeks, after which the condition will be reevaluated. If things have improved, we move to Phase 2Strengthening. After this is, of course, Phase 3, which is Return to Activity. The lengths and activities of phases 2 & 3 will be determined after phase 1 is complete.

I'll do my best to maintain optimism during this entire process, but there's a chance this will permanently affect my future running goals. Most doctors like to hint at worst-case scenarios, and this guy is no different (except for the fact that he's a Sports Doctor with a lot of knowledge and experience with endurance racing — running and triathlon). He said that, due to this deformity (man, that word makes me sound like Quasimodo or something), maybe I won't be a “marathon runner”. Perhaps I'll only be able to run limited mileage, possibly combined with cross-training (the latter not being a bad thing, necessarily). Swallowing the possibility of not being able to run as much and as far as I'd like to is difficult. I'm choosing to focus on the word “possibility”, and not the phrase “not able to.” The wild card in this whole scenario is the protruding heel bone. As long as that's there, the condition could return (and possibly worsen) in the future.

Which leads us to...

This condition has proven itself to be chronic before, so there's no guarantee that the above-mentioned “conservative” approach will take care of the problem. If it doesn't, surgery will be the option. This will involve cutting around the heel and slightly up, detaching the Achilles tendon, shaving the heel bone, removing scar tissue from the tendon, then reattaching the Achilles tendon to the heel bone...after which I'd be completely out of commission for a half a year, minimum. Even after healing from this procedure, there's no guarantee I could run the way (or as far as, or as much as) I'd prefer to.

In the meantime, I'll be preparing to sell tickets to the Gun Show doing upper body weight work until I'm cleared to start working my legs and feet again. I'll also be doing my best to NOT have to break out the 'fat jeans' (the few I've saved, anyway). Oh holidays, how I resent your culinary temptations.

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty melancholy about the whole predicament. Part of me wants to stay plugged into the running community (both online and local) because it's a great bunch of people, and part of me wants to completely disconnect because it reminds me that I can't physically be a part of it (if you're reading this and you're NOT a runner, this probably sounds pretty extreme). Odds are that I'll pull back a little... but running is in my blood, so I'm sure I'll still be part of the “gang”.

And of course I'll keep you posted on my progress (and still post some crazy videos from time to time).

I have a two-mile “race” (fun run) scheduled with my oldest daughter next Saturday. There's no way on Earth I'd miss this. I can't think of a better way to end my running for the time being.

Here's to hoping my blog title has even more relevance in a few months, and that I don't have to change it to The Retired Runner.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

High School District Meet, Oct. 30th

Here are a couple of short video clips from last weekend's District XC meet (to which I brought my oldest daughter).
Since I focused on Glacier Peak High School in the article I wrote for Northwest Runner Magazine a couple of months ago, I've been following the team closely this season.
The first clip is the finish of the boys' 3A race. This took place at South Whidbey High School (on Whidbey Island, near Langley, WA). Jeff Bastian (senior) of Glacier Peak won the race in a fast time (especially on this tough course).

(Jeff took 4th in the state meet today)

This next clip is of the finish of the girls' 3A race, with Amy-Eloise Neale (soph, Glacier Peak HS) securing an easy-looking victory (with a new course record), with Katie Bianchini (soph, Glacier Peak) taking second. Glacier Peak also took 3rd and 5th in the race.

(Amy-Eloise won state today in a blazing 17:31, with Katie taking 3rd overall. The Glacier Peak girls also secured their first state title)

The Division-winning, AND State-winning Glacier Peak girls team.

It's a good thing Amy-Eloise Neale has a memorable name. If you follow professional running at all, I think you'll eventually hear her name on the national...possibly international...level in a few years. She's the real deal.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Video Friday

Happy Friday, my friends.
I present to you:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sleeping Glute*

*My new Native-American name

I just returned from my MRI appointment. I had forgotten how long it takes to get 'er done. I sat completely still for 40 minutes (until my right glute was sound asleep) while the funky little machine hummed and growled away.

I'll return to the doctor on Tuesday to view and discuss the results.

Running a marathon soon? Check in tomorrow to see a new and enlightening video.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

MRI, and Insurance News

I'm getting an MRI on my foot tomorrow. I'll visit my doc again next Tuesday to go over the results.

My wonderful wife called our insurance company today and was told that they will cover orthotics (100%!) as long as they're billed as "preventative". I don't see why they wouldn't be considered preventative, as they will hopefully help me avoid further injuries once I start running again.

So, good news, as custom orthotics aren't exactly cheap.

Tune in Friday for a new, timely (regarding fall marathon season) and VERY helpful video!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

First Visit to the Sports Medicine Clinic

I just returned from my first visit to the Sports Medicine Clinic in Seattle. While more info will be forthcoming, I do have some preliminary info to share.

We discussed my recent running history. I told him how I trained for and ran my marathon back in May, then had my first run-in with the heel pain a couple of weeks later. Then came the 3 week layoff, then back into training (for Ragnar, primarily), then a six week layoff, then very minimal running the last 4-5 weeks.

He then observed my feet as I was standing (barefoot) and noticed that my offending foot pronates quite a bit. He then remarked at how tight my right calf and achilles are, and how that is likely affecting my foot movement during foot strike.

He then took xrays of my foot (unlike the PT I saw earlier this year). I don't have them to post here, unfortunately, but upon his diagnosis, he explained—and showed me— that I have a condition called Haglund's Deformity. There's a prominent growth on the top of my right heel that's causing irritation of my achilles tendon and, possibly, the bursa. While this may not be directly related to the pain I'm also feeling in other areas of my foot, it's certainly the genesis of this injury. The excessive pronation is likely the cause of at least the other pain, if not also this deformity issue. He also said something about a possible cyst there, although I wasn't totally clear about that. He said that surgery probably won't be needed. Oh — he also said that my six week layoff would have been enough time off if it was just tendonitis (not totally sure I agree), and that the recurring nature of the injury points to a structural problem (as the x-ray showed, and to which I do agree).

I asked him if he thought tinkering with my running form could have contributed to this and he confirmed that he has seen many runners who have been injured during that process. While agreeing that working to improving one's form isn't a bad thing, he said that our bodies do settle on a natural running form based on our biomechanics and structural issues (but again, no, he doesn't think over-striding and heel-striking are good). He did comment that I'm probably not a good candidate for Vibram Five Fingers, though.

He agreed that other contributing factors could be overuse and increased hill training (which really pushed it over the top back in August).

As you might suspect, he does recommend custom orthotics. While I've been averse to this idea before, now I say bring 'em on. Fortunately, he's not a fan of what he calls "bricks" (i.e. heavy, motion-control shoes, which I used to wear) and that I should be fine continuing to wear my neutral running shoes. I'll just have a bit more support to correct my overpronation in that foot.

The next step in the process will be an MRI to take a look at the soft tissues & tendons surrounding the heel (and ankle area) to see how inflamed they are. I'm awaiting a call from their office to schedule an appointment.

Thankfully (and as I suspected) there's no sign of any stress fractures. I just have a freakish heel bone and a wonky foot movement.

So that's all I know at this point. As you'd guess, I'm done running for the time being. After the MRI, we'll discuss cross-training options, and how long it might be until I start running again.

Not running is a major bummer, but I'm happy to be working with someone who (so far) I trust.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Yorker Article

I don't often read the New Yorker (okay, I NEVER do), but I found a link to this article, about Alberto Salazar and his trainee, Dathan Ritzenhein, that was a very interesting read. It covers Salazar's career, along with his coaching philosophy and how one of his runners (Ritz) has struggled with a form overhaul. Of course I'm not even a fraction of the athlete Ritzenhein is, but I wonder if my foot injury may have come, as his did, from my attempt to change my form (i.e. landing more midfoot than on the heel). Not that I regret the attempt. In the long run, I believe it will make me faster and less injury prone. But I've been suspicious that the change may be partially behind my foot follies.

Either way, it's an interesting article and worth a read.