Category Archives: April ’10

Plantar fasciitis

I was plagued with running injuries my entire high school career. First it was Illiotibial band tendinitis in the left knee, then the right knee. Then came the stress fracture. Then the sprained ankle. I never had a chance to get in any sort of a rhythm, never had a chance to see any improvement.

Needless to say I was ecstatic when my career took off with the help of my coach, Michael Harlow. He knew what he was doing and as long as I listened to him, I remained injury free.

The beginning of this season however, I took a risk. While last year at Virginia Tech I had no excuse for loosing so much fitness in the off season, this off-season I was committed to something entirely different from triathlon training. Hiking was physical, that is true. But I managed to loose nearly all of my triathlon fitness. So when I returned home in January, ready to return to the life I had always known, getting back in shape became my priority.

So I came back to triathlon training at an intensity level like I had never left. My logic was simple, hiking was intense, stressful on almost every part of my body, so maybe my body could handle it. It held up against the track workouts, the three hour cycling rides and the miles of swimming each week. Of course there were the tweaks and small pains that scared me every now and then. Pulled lat, strained deltoid, tight hamstring.

But when my racing brought me back to the trails that at one time gave me the confidence to be headstrong so early in the season, the real injury came about.

With the off road duathlon this past weekend I ran over nine miles on the hilly, rocky, and slick trails surrounding Richmond. And probably not one of my better decisions, I ran the entire race in flimsy racing flats.

On Sunday morning I stepped out of bed in sheer agony. Besides the rather extreme soreness resulting from my poor recovery practices from the day before, my left foot was really killing me. After the first few footsteps away from my bed, I realized something was severely wrong.

So, Patient First gave me no diagnosis, a tacky blue Velcro boot, some crutches, and a note excusing me from work.

The next day however, Dr. Moose Herring told me what I feared, plantar fasciitis. However, with the rapid onset of the injury, the prognosis was not bleak. “Don’t run till Friday.” I’ll take that over the typical report that comes with plantar fasciitis.

I think I’ll be keeping to the roads for a while though.

Riding fat tires

I looked to my left and spotted my tail looking strong coming down the hill less than a minute after me. I have enough time. He will not catch me. I paced myself out on that first mile so as to not let his confidence soar as he gained on me. My goal at this point in the race, nearly finished was damage control. I am in seventh place in a national championships, keep it that way. Damage control.

At the start line over two hours ago, my coach Michael pointed to my competition. “That is Eric Sorensen. Watch out of him. And that is Frank Febbraro. He beat Eric last year. Watch out for both those guys.” Immediately I matched the names I had been googling this past week to the faces and the jerseys of those two guys. Keep up with those guys and I maybe can do this right.

After heading out on the roads at 5:36 pace, Febbraro, Sorensen,  last year’s champ, Pierre Martel, and I all hit the trails together. We cruised over the slick stones and hugged the tight turns, hammered the uphills and drifted on the downhills. My heart rate was over my supposed limitation for a race of this distance, way over. I was holding a 194 beats per minute average, a pace that should have shut me down, should have sent me to my knees vomiting. I wanted this though and if I dropped to my knees for a second my competitors would be gone.

I trotted in their footsteps, feeling the comfort and benefit of letting Sorensen do the pace work. I had recognized Martel’s stressed running form and heavy breathing and popped between him and his teammate Febbraro. I watched Febbraro’s footwork, stayed in the draft, and kept right on his heel’s.

“Hey Pierre, you still back there?,” Febbraro called to his teammate.

“Yeah he’s there, I responded.”

Less than a mile later Martel was over a hundred meters back. With him struggling this early in the race, I knew I no longer had to worry about last year’s national champion.

I exited transition in 5th place with the fastest T1 of the day. On the bike Febbraro was first to catch me, and within minutes Sorensen cruised by me. Throughout the first half of the mountain bike Sorensen and Febbraro pulled further and further away until soon I was alone.

My legs were weakening severely and I was running out of water quickly as the race continued. At the last drop of water out of my bottle I was still three miles out on the bike. The technical sections became nearly impossible with my twitchy fatigued legs but I managed to muscle through most of it. My back was arching, the blisters on my feet felt like needles, and I had to inspire myself to find the energy to stand up on my bike over the rock gardens.

I entered T2 with cramps and severe fatigue but the second run was only two miles long. Just make it to that finish line. Damage control.

But when the finish chute came in sight, my competitor’s footsteps had grown stronger. I turned around and there he was, racing up the hill that I had barely stumbled up. He passed me with two-hundred meters to go. I tried to kick and accelerate to keep up with him. I worked to get on his heels but my lead-filled legs had another less exciting idea. I finished in eighth place with no intense sprint finish. But whatever, I’m an age group national champion for the first time in my career.