Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Photo Contest Entry List Update

"Fast Track"
Harold Hill

So I finally got all the entries organized. Here is a link to the Picasa Web Album

Here is a link to same album in Google+ (looks cooler).

Click here for the spreadsheet list of the entries I have so far. There are a few missing, but hopefully I will get that fixed.

So far we have 2 judges, so five spots left.

   Below is a slide show. (Sorry it is flash. I hate flash).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

$100 Photo Contest Ends in 23 Days

Your time is running out

You have one last chance to submit a photo for the 2011 Running Photo of the Year contest.

The deadline is December 31, 2011 at 9:00 AM.

I have changed the submission process slightly.  Please follow these 3 steps carefully. If you don't, your submission may be lost
  1. You MUST fill out this formIf you don't, then I will not know who the photo is from. This is because the when the photo is emailed, it goes into a dropbox, and I dont see the email.
  2. Then email the image to this address: 113635732325082234976.contest@picasaweb.com
  3. In the subject line, include: your name, the month, and the title of the image. Don't include anything in the body of the email, because I cannot see it.
I am no longer accepting links. Due to my disorganization, I waited to long to get some of the images and they are gone now. I will try to contact the applicants to resubmit. Sorry about that.


The judging will take place at our usual New Years Eve gathering. Here are the rules that I am making up as I type this:
  • There will be 7 volunteer judges. 
  • There will be a presentation of all of the submissions, along with a discussion of the merits of each
  • Each judge will pick their top three submissions, awarding points.  
    • 1st = 3 points
    • 2nd = 2 points
    • 3rd = 1 points
  • Judges cannot vote for their own photos, if they have any.
  • Points will be tallied up. Top prize is awarded to the most points, seconds place to the next, etc.
  • Any ties will be broken by Shannon and I.
  • Prize money is mailed out first week in January.
Wanna be a Judge?
All ya gotta do is volunteer. Leave a comment here, send me an email, tell me in person, whatever. The next 6 people to volunteer are in. We already have 1 judge.

You will have to come to our New Year's Eve party (which can be painfully dull, we often play Scrabble).
I suppose if you really want to be a judge, but really don't want to spend New Year's eve looking at running photos and playing Scrabble then I'll make an exception.

Current Entries
In the next few days I will make a post with the current entries. I will also be contacting some of you about problems with the submissions.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2011 Run at the Rock

Running On Empty
As Shannon and I were making the drive to our 4th "Run At The Rock", the car was complaining.
Distance to Empty: 20 miles.
A rational response to this is to get gas. Being insecure, I take this as a challenge:
"Oh yeah?", I tell the car, "I bet I can go thirty!"

Which we did. Pulling into a gas station a few miles from Cedarock Park, I reached for my wallet...
Uh oh.
Shannon didn't bring hers either. We scrounged for change in the seats, but only found 10 cents and $15 gift card to Inside-Out Sports. Both useless.

So we decided to push our luck and drive on to the race, tapping into uncharted regions of the gas tank.

Trading Body Parts for Cash
My running this year has been a steady cycle of overdoing it and injuries.
My latest crash was a DNF 3 weeks ago at The Misery Run. I had to quit running after 2 miles because my Turkey Tendon (behind my knee) was threatening to snap in half.
I only managed to get a few 8 miles runs in since then, so it was questionable if I would make it through a hard 14 miler.

But I decided to risk injury because I was doing surprisingly well in the NC Trail Half Marathon Series, mostly because of my stellar attendance record. So I didn't want to miss Run at the Rock, which was the final race of the series.
If I could place in the top seven, I could over take David Roche for 1st place in the standings. Assuming, of course, he didn't show up.

"Damnit! I was hoping you wouldn't show up", I told him, as his mere presence crushed my dreams.
Now I had to live with Shannon besting me once again, as she had 1st place in the series safely locked up.

People get a little crazy during the first mile
Run Like A Bargain Shopper
Like most single track trail races, Run at the Rock starts with a half mile or so of open road. The purpose of this is to give time for runners to settle into a reasonable pace and allow the pack to thin out into an orderly line onto the trail.

But most trail runners approach this first mile like Black Friday Walmart shoppers. At the "GO", I sprinted off like a lunatic trampling several people trying to get to the trail first. Before the first turn I pepper sprayed several people next to me so I could take the corner.

My goal for the race was to average an 8:00 min/mile, but a quarter mile in, the Garmin said I was running a 6:00 min/mile. Despite this ridiculous pace, there was still about 30 people in front of me. In the open field, I made an asshole move and ran outside the couse markers to cut ahead a bunch of them and then hit the trail.

Damn elves 
Out Of Gas
After a mile, the pack thinned out and I was running with just a couple other guys. We splashed through a few small gullies, and clomped through some muddy patches.
I was feeling surprisingly good. My Turkey Tendon and knees felt fine.

So at the 3 mile marker, I stopped being conservative, and let it rip.
I crashed down rocky slopes and charged up the hills. I felt great, but was breathing really hard.
After what seemed a long while, my legs became weak and I was hunched over, gasping for air, trudging slowly up a hill. Almost completely spent, I looked up and saw... the 4 mile marker.

I laughed, because at that point another 10 miles seemed impossibly far. I walked for a while to catch my breath, but was only passed by a couple guys. As I finished the first loop I thought about dropping out, but nothing really hurt, I was just exhausted.

So I ran the second loop more to my abilities. I walked up all of the steep hills, conserving my energy so that I could fly down the other side. My apologies to Brian Tajlili and Dan Bedard, who must have thought I was an idiot.

But the walking allowed me to finally see the waterfall. I have run this race 3 times before, so that means I ran by it 7 times without seeing it. I know why I never look at it though, because just as I did, I took a wrong turn. Damn you, beautiful nature.

I finally made it to the finish line and collapsed in a heap. Yes, this was overly dramatic, but I was really happy. It was my longest run in 5 weeks, my fastest in 2 months, and most importantly nothing broke.

Shannon just keeps getting faster on the trails. She was 3rd female, while taking pictures as usual. Click here for the album. Her speediness has resulted in a decline in photo quality however, as we had to delete about 100 blurry ones. She did get this one of Tim Gautreau's prodigious blisters.

I have to thank Scott for lending us money so we could get home.

Be sure to check out his race report here, as it is absolutely way better than mine.
Oh, and me saying that may or not be part of the terms of the loan.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Up and Running

I was making similar face at The Misery Run for a different reason

Alright, I'm back. I'm "between injuries" once again.
Wow, it's been like six weeks since my last post.
Let's check the running log to see what's been happening with me:

10/15 - Did OK at Triple Lakes, knees feeling better
10/22 - Strained my "turkey tendon" (again) trying to run 18 miles.
10/28 - Quit running, for good this time
11/01 - In a severe bout of optimism, sign up for the Uwharrie 40
11/06 - Ran the NY Marathon... well, in a virtual reality Avatar-sort-of-way
11/10 - Become thankful that my neighbor donated an elliptical machine to us
11/13 - Drop out of the Misery Run after 2 miles when Turkey Tendon fails
11/14 - Never running again. I mean it this time.
11/17 - Become thankful that Sams Club sells Naproxen in bulk
11/20 - Run 8 miles! In great new shoes!
11/30 - Fail to run 8 miles! In crappy new shoes!

So that's been what's happening with me.
Shannon has been doing good. She has the Umstead 100 Miler coming up in a few months and she is giving some serious thought to starting to train for it.

The blog to-do list is really filling up. Here are some posts I'll try to get out this month:
  • Interview with our favorite running couple Jim Hite and Joyce Hodges-Hite
  • Shannon's 1000 mile shoes
  • New "clown" shoe review (?)
  • Call for judges for Running Photo contest
  • 2011 Running Photos of the year selections!
  • Review of the absolute best running accessory ever. 
  • New York Marathon race report (maybe not, could stir up controversy)
  • Run at the Rock race report

Yes, I will be attempting to run the Run At The Rock 14 Miler tomorrow. I have not run further than 9 miles since the Turkey Tendon failure 5 weeks ago, so it who knows what will happen.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2011 Triple Lakes Trail Race

Robin was at the race today.
Between Injuries
"Are you between injuries?", Smart-ass Ultra Brad asked me at the race today.

The answer is: Yes!... well, for a few hours anyway.

I finally started to get over my knee problems that have plagued me since Uwharrie last February.
The solution was not biking, cortisone shots, or acupuncture.
Barefoot running was starting to work, but then, of course, I got impatient and hurt my foot. TMTS=TOFP

The solution was, once again, small steps.
I am not a very smart person, it seems, as I quickly forget even the hardest learned lessons.

I made my rediscovery a few weeks ago. Instead of trying to go fast, I tried to run with zero pain. This required taking tiny, ridiculously small steps. It was a 12 minute mile, but it worked. For the first time in a while, I actually felt better after a run instead of worse.

A day later I tried it again. A little faster, and felt better still. Eureka!

In a desperate attempt to train for the New York Marathon, I put in a 40 mile week.
Going from 10 miles a week to 40 is slightly more than the recommended 10%. My hamstrings were shredded, and on Monday I woke up with a sore throat. I rested all week, but by this morning it had progressed to a  full fledged snot infested cold.

Still, I didn't want to miss the race today. So a handful of Tylenol, caffeine, and decongestant, and we are off!

Batman was also there.
Instead of a cape, he wore a Godiva shirt.

Triple Lakes Trail Race has 3 events: a 40 mile ultra, a marathon and "fun" run for the kids. Shannon and I ran the fun run, which is a half marathon. This was our third time running it. Here is the race report from 2009.

The race started with an air horn. Ben Godfrey took off, and in about 12 seconds he was a mile down the greenway and out of sight.

This made it seem like the rest of us was plodding along, but then Shannon looked at her watch and said "I don't need to be doing a 6 min mile". I certainly didn't either, so I slowed down and followed 3 other guys onto the trail.

I Finish!
I felt pretty good with all the drugs, but 13 miles is a long way for me these days, so I tried to take it easy. Ended up passing one guy, and another stopped in a porta-potty. So I was then in 3rd place.

But by mile 6, the "easy" pace felt really hard. My nose was running like a faucet. It was step, step, sniffle, step, step, sniffle.

I had one bad coughing spell, and hacked up something disturbing.
I would like to blame my cold for my struggles, but really my body is just not used to running that far or fast. My hips and back were aching, and I was having trouble lifting my feet.

Simulation of what I coughed up at mile 7
Around mile 8, I kicked the end of a stick. The other end of the stick stuck into the ground, causing my foot to "pole vault" about 3 feet into the air, bending leg at an unnatural angle. Lucky nothing snapped.

I continued to slow, until I was just plodding along trying to get to the finish line. Going around the pond at the end I looked back and didn't see anyone, but then about 30 feet from the finish a kid comes up right behind me. I managed to out kick the little bastard to stay in 3rd. But 1:44 was the slowest of my 3 times at this race.

How could I stay home and miss this?

Shannon Wins! Ken Wins!
A few minutes later Shannon comes around the pond as the first woman. She is a trail running machine!

She took pictures all the while, of course. Click here for the photo album.

We waited around to see our friend Ken come in, but we didn't have to wait long. He won the marathon.
And he had just signed up on a whim at the last minute. Amazing.

Godiva wins Men's marathon and women's half marathon.
Suck it Bull City! 
That Didn't Last Long 
As I finish writing this, my legs are aching and I have an ice bag on my throbbing knee.
My time between injuries didn't last too long, I guess. I think I forgot to take the small steps today. Sigh.
Someday, I'll learn...

Questions for the Hites?

Runners Joyce Hodges-Hite, 74 and  Jim Hite, 77 

We met the amazing running couple Joyce Hodges-Hite and Jim Hite at the Continental Divide 10K Trail Race last year.

The CDTR 10K is a race in which elite runners who run 5Ks in the 14 minute range walk up some of the hills.

To see a couple in their 70's there tackling that brutal course was astounding. Shannon and I can only hope to be that couple 35 years from now.

They will be in town on Monday, so we are going to interview them and find out what makes them tick. I'll post it here.

If you have any ideas for questions we could ask, please submit them below. It would be much appreciated!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ales for Rails 5k

Shannon ran the inaugural "North Carolina Rail-Trails Ales for Rails 5k" on Sunday. It was at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, so I tagged along to for some of the "Rail-Trail Ale", which was delicious.

The bibs were made from old UHF antennas
Shannon took a bunch a pictures. The album is here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

2011 CDTR 10K Race Report

Lots of fast guys up front. Who would win? None of them.
The incredible legs of Joyce Hodges-Hite.
 Yes, that's her age.
Charity Race
The Continental Divide Trail 10K is held on a brutally technical course in Laurel Springs, NC. The name refers to the Eastern Continental Divide in case you're wondering. This tiny race attracts big talent because it serves as the USATF National 10K Trail Championship.

For those not familiar, USATF is a charity program where mediocre runners like myself donate $30 each to help disadvantaged runners who are burdened with unnatural speed. On the men's side, the needy runners at the race included trail prodigy David Roche, mountain goat Ryan Woods, La Sportiva Mountain Cup winner Jared Scott, and Olympic hopeful Bobby Mack.

But the most incredible athlete present was easily Joyce Hodges-Hite, returning for her third year in a row. She ran the same course that left elite athletes stumbling and gasping for air. She is 74 years old. The next time I complain about some knee pain, just say "Joyce Hodges-Hite" and I'll shut up.

New to the race this year was a truck doling out free post race smoothies. More on that later.
Race co-director Jason Bryant gets
 upset with incompetent photographers

Race Day Jitters
The men's race came first, and as I lined up at the start, I was nervous.
Mostly about what I had to do after I was done running. Shannon had volunteered us to be the "official" race photographers, and I was on the hook for capturing the women's event.
I had practiced using Shannon's Canon 5D Mark II during the week, and had discovered that I had no idea what I was doing.
The camera is really complicated and gives you 1000 different options for producing dark and blurry pictures.

Race directors Jason and Alison Bryant had comped our race fee, so I did not want to disappoint.

First I had to get through the race without hurting myself too much, which would be a challenge. My runners knee rehab was still incomplete, and I had run a grand total of 60 miles in the previous 3 months. Most of it very slow and painful.

Competitive Plummeting
Fortunately for me, the race actually did not involve much running.
Here is the breakdown:

  • Running : 20%
  • Trudging/climbing up steep slopes: 40%
  • Plummeting out of control: 40%
The race began at the top of a grassy hill. At the word "go", I was swept up with the pack as we flew across the field and descended down a gravel path. I had not run a 6 minute mile in many months and my legs were not ready for it.

My right hamstring was screaming at me, "What the hell are you doing?". After a quarter mile, in an effort to protect itself, it curled up like a retracting tape measure. I tried to adjust my stride, but then my arthritic knees began to buckle. Suddenly it became impossible to control my descent down the path. 

The grade became more and more severe and I was literary falling down the hill, unable to stop myself. I was passing guys right and left, trying not to crash into them. Later, I would receive complements about my impressive downhill running ability, and I failed to confess that it was completely involuntary.

My contribution to the team was my incredible skill of dropping like a rock.

Competitive Trudging
Shannon captures my good running form
Finally I hit the road at the bottom of the 300 foot drop and managed to remain on my feet. The course immediately does a U-turn and heads straight back up. This was a huge relief to my legs, as I shifted to a nice slow power hike. The guys in front of me were actually running up the slope, but strangely I was able to keep up with them. 

By the top, I was warmed up and my legs felt better. Which was good, because next we hit the single track and some more semi-controlled falling down a 400 foot drop in a quarter mile.

On the next climb, I was hunched over with my hands on my knees for a good quarter mile. It seemed like it helped, and I thought about finishing the race like that.

Hitting the Wall
The race continued up and down a few more times, all the while I was expecting to completely tank. It didn't really know how far my legs would carry me, or how to pace myself, so I was just going all out. "You are going to regret this later", entered my head. But it felt so great to be racing again, I decided to just enjoy the moment.

In 2010, showing her my "O" face

I had been following teammate Craig Heinly for the last half of the race, just trying to keep up with him. As we made the final climb up "The Rock Wall", I think we were both delirious from exhaustion. Craig went right, and I stopped and stared at the orange flags on the left for few seconds, trying to comprehend what they meant.

"I think it's this way". I turned left and ended up ahead of him. Next I saw Shannon taking photos at the top of the rock wall and made a deliberate effort not make the maniacal primal scream face I did last year at the same spot.

Improbable Finish
I stumbled my way out of the trail and up to the finish. I stopped my watch, and the time was 51:43.
"What?" This was over a minute faster than last year, when I was running 200 miles a month instead of 20.

But, of course, you really don't need much training to drop down a hill out of control.

I saw someone with a smoothie and it looked wonderful. I was hot, hungry and thirsty.
"Where did you get that?"
"They are handing them out down there."
I started to head down to get one, when Shannon appeared. "Quick, take the camera! My race starts in 5 minutes". I helped her pin her bib on, and went over to capture women's start.

I was happy that my legs still functioned, as I was able to run to a few different spots to get shots. All the while still thinking of that smoothie. After 45 minutes I went headed back down to "The Rock Wall" to get the leaders coming up.

I had managed to run the race without tripping, but here, with the camera, is where I fell. It was a slow motion crash, with my knees, then elbows, then face hitting the dirt. But when I came to a stop, the ludicrously expensive camera remained perched in my hand an inch off the ground.

I sat on the rocks for an hour and tried to get a shot of each of the women. Out of 800 pictures I ended up with 8 good ones, including the one above. [ see here for links to all the photos ]. Finally I had to leave without getting the last 3 women, because I was starving and lure of the smoothie was too great.

I headed down to the Sheets truck, and as I walked up, the woman inside waved her hand at me. "Sorry! That was the last one!" And slammed the window shut in my face.

I was too stunned and exhausted to complain, and instead collapsed into a heap on the ground.

"Do you want mine?", asked my teammate Barbara, who had received the last one. She graciously gave it to me. And thus my day was finally complete, and it had exceeded all expectations.

Godiva women's team took 2nd place Open and 1st place Master's.

Shannon also had a very good day, taking an astounding 6:30 off her time from last year. Though she was a little disappointed that she had got passed at the very end, dropping her from 10th to 11th place.

As they handed out the medals for the women's race, they called up 10th place, then 9th, then 8th...
"Oh! If I just could have ran a little harder at the end, I could have been in the top 10!", she winced.

But then, in the middle of calling out the awards, Molly Nunn, the USATF representative, said "Wait, there seems to be some discrepancy." After a few minutes of consulting and reviewing the results, they made a change. It seems one of the top 10 was not registered USATF.

"In 10th place is Shannon Johnstone!"

That's right! Shannon placed in the top ten in a national trail race (*among those USATF registered). How cool is that?

Back at school she bragged to her students, who were not so easily impressed:

Friday, September 2, 2011

2011 CDTR 10K Photos - All

All of the photos are up for the 2011 Continental Divide 10K Trail Championship.

Click here for all of the 600+ photos on Picasa.

We picked out our favorites in a "Best Of "Album here.

Here are the links to the Facebook albums:
Women's Race
Men's Race and Misc Part 1
Men's Race and Misc Part 2
Men's Race and Misc Part 3

You can email us at photo@running-down.com if you would like a high rez photo.

I'll try to do my race report this weekend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 CDTR 10K Photos - Women's Race

As I mentioned before, Shannon and I photographed the the 2011 Continental Divide 10K Trail Championship.

I took pictures of the women's race while Shannon ran, and Shannon took pictures of the men's race and everything else.

Women's Race
I finished editing the photos that I took, and I am somewhat disappointed with the results. It turns out that it is not as simple as point and shoot, and I have a lot to learn about photography.

Here is a link to the album on Facebook

Feel free to tag away.

Here is a link to a Picasa Album

You can email me a photo@running-down.com if you would like a high rez photo.

Shannon is still editing the Men's race, and we have more from the pre-race and awards ceremony.
Sorry it's taking so long to get them done, we have a lot of stuff going on this week.

These are the best of the set.

The New Cure is...

Let me trot out this graph for the last time (I promise):

Before 2007, the more I ran, the more my knees hurt. After that, it doesn't make sense. Why did my knees get better even though I was running more?

Looking at my log, I see I was riding my mountain bike quite a bit back then. Let's add in the bike miles:

Hmmm. Seems to be a correlation between the bike miles and the knee health. It may not look like a lot of bike mileage, but those are not namby-pamby-"spinning"-at-110-rpm road miles. Those are hunched-over-the-handle-bars-pedal-mashing Turkey Creek miles.

The Bike
I started riding my mountain bike in 2006 because I couldn't run.
After a year, my knees got better and I could run again. I kept riding, all the while running more miles and getting faster. Then in the fall of 2011, I became obsessed with a sub-3 marathon. I mostly quit the bike and started running 6 days a week.

Cross Training 
I have always been skeptical about the value of "cross-training". I always thought that the best training for running was running, and your legs will become as strong as they need to be. I only rode the bike to have something to do when I was taking a day off from running.

I put PowerCranks on the bike hoping they would make me a faster runner. It never occurred to me that the bike might be strengthening my legs and keeping me healthy. But maybe that was the case.

Shriveled Pepper
Last December I started getting injuries and taking a lot of days off. I still pushed hard in the races, which led to more injuries and more days off. I think my legs just got weaker and weaker.
Months of limping around and favoring my left leg actually caused my right quad to atrophy and shrivel up like a green pepper at Food Lion.

An Experiment
So back in July, I decided my new magic cure for Runners Knee was the bike!
My plan was to focus on strength instead of high turnover, so that meant a lot of high gear pedal mashing.

To make pedaling motion more like a running stride, I did the following things:
  • Moved my seat as far forward as it would go, for a more upright position
  • Put the seat up high so that my legs extended completely
  • Slid the cleats all the way forward to allow my calf to flex
  • Adjusted the cranks from 172.5mm to 180mm
The result was a full leg extension, the same motion as the quad strengthening exercises that are recommended for runners knee.
But instead of 3 sets of 10, I could do thousands of reps as I commuted back and forth to work.
In July I managed to put in over 400 miles and only crashed the bike once.

Baby Steps
Slowly, I started feeling better. It might have been the biking, or just the time off from running. I was able to start running again, just a mile or two at a time. I ran barefoot, because the knee felt better that way. Coming into August, I struggled up to 12 miles a week.

Please, Not Another Race
Too many hard races had led to my crappy knee condition, so I vowed not to sign up for any more races until I felt healthy again.

However, Shannon and I had volunteered to photograph the Continental Divide 10K Trail Championship in Laurel Springs, NC on August 27.
For this, the organizers gave us free entry to the race, and I received an email that I was signed up.
6.2 miles of lung searing climbs and knee crushing descents? That seemed like the absolute worst idea for my recovery.

But I supposed I could walk it if I had to...

The Test
Nine days before the race, it was a nice cool morning. I decided to put the on the old shoes and head out to the trail for a 7 mile run. Just to see if I was capable of going that far. It was the longest since my Bayshore Bonk back in May.

The right knee still bothered me quite a bit, and the downhills hurt like hell, but not enough to stop me.
The thing that amazed me was how easy the uphills felt.

Considering I had only run 50 miles the last 3 months, it was quite a good run. Maybe the 900 miles I had put on the bike this summer had helped me even more than I had hoped.

I was suddenly looking forward to Laurel Springs...

NEXT: Continental Divide 10K Trail Championship

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

They tried to make me go to rehab...

I said, "No, no, no".

And by rehab, I mean physical therapy for my knees.
If they want me to go to drug rehab, I'll go, but only if it's somewhere nice.

Physical Therapy
I had been to physical therapy before for my Runners Knee in 2006. Here is how it went:

Therapist: Lay on this table and do 3 sets of 10 leg lifts.
Me: Ok, done. Now what.
Therapist: Uh, do some more leg lifts. Then come back for 3 days a week for the next 8 weeks.
Me: For more leg lifts?
Therapist: Uh, well... yeah.
Me: So I come here 3 days a week and pay you $300 an hour to tell me to do leg lifts?
Therapist: Yes.
Me: Why don't I just stay home and do leg lifts for free?
Therapist: Because I am a professional.

Go back to start... Do not pass go... Lose $2000 
So after lots of doctors visits I was back to where I started from.
All the way back to 2006, in fact. A case of runners knee and no answers.

"Small Steps" wasn't working.
Hell, even "NO STEPS" wasn't working.

Hmmm. Why did it come back? A better question, why did it go away for a few years?

Fortunately I have kept a detailed running log since 2007 that could answer those questions.

Some people think running logs are useless data.

But back in July, I looked at my log and found something very interesting...

To be continued.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Runner's Knee - part 4 , The Knees Strike Back

My continuing saga with "Runner's Knee"...

In Part #1, I declared myself cured from 20+ years of "Runner's Knee".
In Part #2, I enumerated the my long and painfully stupid search for the cure.

In Part #3, I announced that the cure was "small steps".

Now, in Part #4, I retract all that. I was wrong, I am not cured.

A case of 3rd degree runners knee.
In this stage, the knees begin to bleed.

This year the old Runners Knee came back with a vengeance, but I was in denial.
How could I have it again? I was cured! I had it all figured out with the "small steps"!
It had to be something else.

So back in May I went to the same doctor I went to in 2006, the previous time I had quit running because of knee pain. He gave me the same diagnoses as he did back then: Chondromalacia

He said physical therapy would not help me. Instead his recommended treatments were...

Bullshit, in a pill form

Glucosamine Chondroitin
Here is the conversation I had with the doctor. For the sake of brevity, I am paraphrasing.

Doctor: "I highly recommend you take Glucosamine Chondroitin, it helps people with your condition."
Me: "But from what I have read, all the legitimate studies have concluded it is no better than placebo."
Doctor: "True, but we have the really good stuff that requires a prescription. It must work better because it is way more expensive than the over-the-counter kind. And we sell it here!"
More expensive Bullshit, injected directly into the knee

Hyaluronan Shots 

Doctor: "I highly recommend you also get Hyaluronan Shots, it helps people with your condition."
Me: "But from what I have read, all the legitimate studies have concluded those shots are also no better than placebo."
Doctor: "But we sell the Othovisc brand, which does work, because the drug company says it does. Plus we give it to professional hockey players and they say it works for them.

Knee torture

Arthroscopic Surgery
Doctor: "If those  drugs don't work, then we can do surgery to smooth out the cartilage under your knee cap."

Cortisone Injections
I had not run at all for 3 weeks, yet my knees were still killing me. They did not seem to be getting any better, it still even hurt to walk. Since I am not a fan of placebo treatments, I opted for a drug that actual does something: Cortisone.

Unfortunately it did absolutely nothing for me. A few days after the shots, I tried to run the result was the same. I hobbled home after a half mile.

There just had to be something seriously wrong. So I sought out another doctor.

Getting fitted for skinny jeans

Doctor #2
Again I am paraphrasing, but this is what Doctor #2 told me:
  • You have Chondromalacia, which is a fancy name for arthritis. There is really nothing you can do for it.
  • If it hurts to run, then don't run.
  • Glucosamine Chondroitin is bullshit
  • Hyaluronan Shots are even more expensive bullshit
  • "Cartilage smoothing" is an absolute last resort, and the success rate is near zero
  • Your right quad is like half the size of your left, what the hell did you do to it?
  • I am prescribing physical therapy, which we sell right here in the building
To be continued...

Blog Blitz!

Shannon and I have returned from our mountain vacation where we both photographed and ran the Continental Divide 10K Trail Race.

So in the next few days, we will be posting the following things:

  • Photographs from the CDTR 10K
  • Race report
  • What we did on on our summer vacation.
  • Some more observations on runners knee 
We have over 1000 photos that we must sift through, whittle down to 200 or so, and then edit.
This will take a few days, but we should have them posted to picasa and facebook by this weekend.

Unfortunately our photos will be superfluous, as Heiko Rath has already posted his complete set here.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Woohoo! Barefoot!

My knee has gotten a little better, so I have tentatively started running again.

Today I ran "The Dogmile" with Shannon and 3 of our dogs. I went barefoot because, strangely enough, my knee hurts less without shoes on.

Running barefoot, however, can have it's own problems.

I was feeling surprisingly good, just an easy jog, not really noticing the knee at all. We got a half a mile down the greenway, where we usually turn around and head home.
I glanced back and asked Shannon, "Wan't to go a little further?"

Our 85 pound dog Dudley, who was in front of me, apparently didn't understand the question.
He spun around to head home, and we collided head on. It was like hitting a concrete barricade.
First, my fragile foot crumpled into his rock solid leg. Then I was thrown over the top of him, crashing a 7 point landing onto the blacktop.

"Ow." I didn't feel the scrapes on my knees and elbows at all, because one of my toes had been crushed like a grape and the white searing pain blocked out all other sensation.
"OK, maybe we won't go any further."
After sitting on the pavement for a few minutes examining the toe, I guessed that it wasn't broken. "Let's head home"

I was able to gingerly run on it, and on the way back we saw another couple walking by. The guy called out after we had passed, "Woohoo! Barefoot!"

When we got to the end of the greenway, I saw a lot of kids in the street, so I decided to stop and put little Jorge back on the leash.
In a remarkably familiar accident, Shannon, who was running behind me, had turned to look back at Jorge and didn't see me stop.

She crashed into me, stepping hard on that same injured toe. "Oh, no..."
I looked down to see it swelling up into a shape and color of a plum.


The Zen of Barefooting can hurt like hell.

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