Sunday, November 17, 2013

Constant frustration

Enduring an enforced 3 month layoff at the beginning of this year due to a serious achilles injury was one of my low points in recent mountain running memory. It wasn't just the loss of about 600 miles of potential running that disappointed, it was the extreme frustration of just not being able to get out. Only aggressive therapy pulled me through and my mileage picked up during spring and summer. In truth, I never fully recovered and even today the left achilles still feels vulnerable and I have to be really careful.
The road at the entrance to our community at its junction with 36.

Being careful isn't one of my character traits when it comes to physical exertion. But 8 weeks ago I was smacked right between the eyes with a second serious achilles injury - this time to my right leg. There was no sign of this coming at all and even as I reflect on the incident and think it through I still can't see the trigger. I was on an innocuous run on Boulder Valley Ranch from Neva Road. It was a week or so after the great Boulder flood and the ground was incredibly heavy - maybe that was it? Huge balls of mud would form on my shoes that added weight to my normal stride pattern. They would eventually drop off and then reform (the mud, not my shoes). It was an unpleasant cycle but then, so was being stuck in the house without exercise.
Looking east across Lost Lake

Lost Lake - early winter ice
Lost Lake outlet
With a couple of miles to go back to the trailhead I felt a sudden pain in my right achilles. This was all too familiar. I slowed to a jog hoping it was just a twinge. No such luck. A moment later and I was walking. It didn't feel too bad I kept deluding myself, but I was limping quite badly and I even wondered whether I could continue walking. But I did. At the car I scraped the mud off my shoes and drove home. I could barely limp to the shower and I laid up for a few hours with an ice pack. Back on the treatment table the apparent miracle that got me going so quickly last time has been frustratingly illusive. Two months into my "recovery" and I feel in no better state.
Crater Lake already in full winter dress

The best I can do is to walk, but even then I seem to pay a price in stiffness and pain. It is difficult for me to push off the ball of my foot. I am like a bear with a sore head. I had so many plans for the fall running season and all have come to nothing. With winter taking its grip in the high mountains it is equally frustrating not to take advantage of these last opportunities to get high before the trails and access roads become snow-bound.
Friendly moose heading to the low ground for food

With running in short supply there hasn't been the raw material to write about. My running dogs are as frustrated as I am. Every morning there is a fading hope of a jangling leash and the smell of running shoes...oh, the smell!! It seems like I need to take a protracted period of downtime over the winter to see if I can really put these injuries behind me. I fear again for 2014 if I don't do this. I have so much more that I still want to do that this is the only thought that applies discipline to my usual poor patient behavior. We'll see.

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