10kTruth.com Web Letter - March 2003
Welcome runners and other sports quote junkies who've signed up for a dose of 10kTruth through receipt of this webletter. Some of you may have wondered where we've been, others likely haven't missed us at all. Our track record of mailings is to send one of these things out every four months or so. You might have heard from us sooner but truth is the Rage went silent. General consensus to date is he's back. If not totally back, at least he's making a come back. Filling-in in his absence has been daughter, Jackie, with a Guest Rage on, you might have guessed it, "Life with the Rage." All that and more below!
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And that's the truth.
The Rage Goes Silent? So What's Up With That? - http://www.10ktruth.com/the_rage/rage.htm Watch your back, my friends. No, this is not an article about office politics. Nor is it a diatribe on racing tactics. It's about how I hosed my back doing what I thought was a pretty simple thing that landed me in surgery, wondering if my running days were over. Don't let this happen to you.
Here's how I did it. It was time for an annual ritual that I had done for a dozen years and counting: Get the Christmas lights out of the attic. I folded down the stairs in the garage, climbed into the attic and located the box, which was all of 15 lbs. or so. The box, while light, was wide and I had my arms fully outstretched to support it, totally ignoring my center of gravity. As I steadied myself to walk back down the stairs, I shifted my weight to my left foot to raise my right foot and felt a jolt go down my legs. I found myself actually wondering if the lights had somehow been left plugged in and I had received a shock. Nope. I continued down the stairs, put the box down and tried to shake it off. Whatever I did now seemed to settle into my left upper quad. I thought to myself, "that wasn't good."
I then proceeded to go cut a Christmas tree, drag it through the field, secure it to the top of the car, etc. Monday, I was in my G.P.'s office and he diagnosed what I suspected: a herniated disc in one of my lumbar (lower back) vertebrae. I had heard about these and had known people who had them, but had no idea this kind of pain was what those folks had to deal with. Thinking about how Bruce dealt with sciatica for so many years, I thought I could handle it too. I told them the pain was a "7" on a scale of 1-10 (big mistake). He gave me codeine, prescribed exercises and instructed me to come back in a week. Three days and 21 codeine pills later (the codeine wasn't doing a thing to knock down the pain), I was back in his office, which I didn't think I was going to need to do. This trip, I couldn't walk and actually had to be wheeled into the doc's office...quite a dramatic and humiliating scene. My leg was now numb down to the ankle and I was in excruciating pain. It was like I was being repeatedly stabbed in my quad. My leg had weakened to a point where it would buckle. Fortunately, Donna had a way of getting people's attention. My G.P. put me through some tests and now, couldn't get my leg to move with the ol' hammer on the knee test. I guess that is a big deal. I couldn't help but notice the look of concern on his and Donna's face. Suddenly, within the same day, I got an X-ray, was MRI'ed, got some beefed pain medication and referred to a neurosurgeon. I said, "…a neuro-what?" (I honestly didn't know what kind of doctor that was. I thought it would be an orthopedic surgeon). I was going to find out on December 19, which was the soonest I could get in 13 days after the injury, which in the HMO world of let's-see-how-much-pain-this-guy can take is light speed.
The MRI/radiologist report indicated a "relatively large disc fragmentation on the L2-L3 lumbar vertebrae." This implied something was floating around and I thought that it just needed to be plucked out. No big deal, right? This was my first experience of the irony of how finding something bad was actually good and that people with chronic pain sometimes couldn't pinpoint the source. It was ironic that I found myself doubled over in pain and felt very lucky. The more people I spoke with, the more I realized that your spinal cord and sciatic nerves are not to be taken for granted.
Now, all I had to do was survive somehow until the 19th which was a week away. I hadn't slept in three nights. What's seven more, right? I couldn't believe that 10 days earlier, I was pumping out sub-six miles in the Civil War Relay and now I couldn't walk. The world looked different. Simple tasks became huge. I felt old and weak. I was completely dependent on my wife and children. There was only one position (sitting on the couch with my legs straight) that I could escape from the pain (even on Percocet; a very powerful narcotic) and I would remain in that position for most of the week. I was scared and didn't want to show it to Donna, Jackie and Shawn, but there was no way I was going to John Wayne my way through this one.
As the week went on, I noticed my quad had atrophied significantly. In 13 days, I lost an inch and a quarter in muscle. I was in sorry shape by the time I got in to the neurosurgeon. My blood pressure was a scary 154/122. By then, I could barely think straight and needed to write down my symptoms for the neurosurgeon, who also happened to be a tri-athlete. The first thing I listed was my 10k time at the top of the page and it caught his eye. He said, "That's a pretty good 10k time." I replied, "Yeah, the mile ain't bad either" (I listed that, too).
I asked, "Can I do it again?" He said, "Hell yeah." I asked, "Will I still be able to beat Tommy Williams?" He said, "Hell, yeah." I told him, "Let's do it." Basically, the procedure called for an incision about three inches long and removal of the disc jell which was smothering the nerve controlling my leg, pressing it up against the vertebrae. If everything went right, I'd be on the table about an hour. No big deal. He expressed his concern of my weakening leg and asked me what I was doing that afternoon. I checked my Palm Pilot and noticed I didn't have much going on. He found an open table and put a quarter up for me. I'd play the winner at 6:00 a.m. the next morning (I had an open slot then, too). I'd never been in surgery before, but thankfully, I had Jackie, my 15 year old, explain the whole process to me (e.g. she had ear surgery twice). She told me not to worry.
The doc said I had a lot of things going for me. I was in good shape, didn't smoke and might recover quickly. The nurses said there was a good chance that once the pressure was taken off the nerve, the pain would be gone immediately.
When I checked in the next morning, I made sure they hadn't scheduled me for a lobotomy, castration or one of several procedures my wife had threatened me with (with the exception of cloning) over the years. Sure glad I checked (nice try, Donna). When you can't move without excruciating pain, it's amazing how hard the simplest things can be. When they wanted me to take my clothes off and slip into the surgery gown...you know, the kind with the stupid ties in the back. Why the heck do they put them there, anyway? If you ever have to put one of those things on, tie them first and slip it over your head. There was no way I was going to call the nurse in.
The anesthesiologist introduced himself and they carted me off. The last thing I remember is the familiar feeling of a blood pressure reading on my arm. I woke up in the hallway (the whole thing was an outpatient deal), noticed folks walking by and a nurse waiting for me to wake up. The pain was completely gone. I couldn't believe it. The last time I looked at the clock it was 7:45 a.m. By 9:15, I was walking out to see Donna. At 10 a.m. I was walking to the car. I felt great. The doc called me at home to check on me that afternoon and I said, "Doc, whatever you're making, it ain't enough." He told me it was no surprise why I was in so much pain. He said the rupture had been so massive the entire vertebrae cavity was filled.
To say I am a lucky man is the biggest understatement of my life. 100 years ago, they would have set me out on the front porch with a bottle of Scotch and a .45. You understand what I'm sayin'? You know what I'm talkin' about?
I have been preparing for my return to running again in late March, which is in another three weeks. After a lot of hard work, my left quad is still noticeably smaller than the right, but the strength is coming back quickly. The nerve seems to be recovering more each day as the numbness has subsided significantly. I now understand all bets are off when it comes to nerves. They absolutely DO NOT want to be fooled with. The phrase "must have touched a nerve" has taken on a whole new meaning. I have been told that my chronically tight hamstrings, which I have done nothing about for my entire life, were probably contributors to my back injury. Subsequently, my P.T. has included lots of stretching, which has improved my range of motion from 60 degrees to 72 degrees on my weak leg...a huge improvement. 77 degrees is what we are shooting for. My P.T. also includes abdominal strengthening to help take the pressure off my back. I am logging lots of hours walking hills, on the treadmill and step-ups on my left leg to gain strength.
It's working. I am a long ways from racing shape, but I am confident I can come back. I am in no hurry. My patience has paid off. It has put me in the position of getting back to running much sooner than I had expected.
I will never forget those 13 days and how they taught me what truly was important in life. I never felt closer to and more appreciative of my family and friends. If the doc had told me that he could take my pain away, but I would never run again, I would have easily taken that deal. Needless to say, I had a very thankful Christmas. Getting to run again is a bonus.
And that's The Truth. - The Rage (3/1/03)
Found a pretty good interview by James Raia with Frank Shorter about his back surgery - http://www.rrca.org/publicat/shorter.html
This one sent in by Boz. Maybe a bit too touchy-feely for us...I might have to educate Bosworth on what blue collar running is all about....Rage
"There's no running like trail running," said Scott Jurek, winner of the last four Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race. "I like what the Tarahumara Indians say about it," he said, referring to the famed long-distance Copper Canyon runners of northwestern Mexico: "When you run with the earth, you can run forever."
More Quotes at: http://www.10ktruth.com/the_quotes/quotes.htm
Kicking it with the Rage by Jackie - http://www.10ktruth.com/the_rage/guest-rage.htm You think you know, but you have no idea. This is the inside story of what it's like living with the Rage. The "Rage" (aka my father) has done some pretty embarrassing things regarding his obsession with running. But one thing that tops the charts in my book is his need to wear his running spandex into stores, malls and other quick stops we need to make. I totally understand that running is a big part of his life, but I think many people would agree that's taking it a little far. However, his opinion is different. His usual comeback to me is, "I know a bunch of 45 year olds that wish they looked this good!" Um...right. When my friends come over to hang out, they get the great opportunity to see my dad in his skintight spandex!
My family and friends all get to hear the Rage's "wonderful" running stories. He's very proud of the one where he was whistled at while running on Manhattan Beach. However, instead of wearing spandex he was in his running shorts. Let's move on from the story, and I'll discuss his running shorts. These things are short shorts. They're almost as embarrassing as the spandex! Whether it was a man or woman that whistled at him, it sure made him feel special.
My sport is volleyball. I'm a DS (defensive specialist) so I play the back row. My dad's sport is running, so I think it's really funny when he gives me his "pointers." (Rage has a problem admitting it, but he knows nothing about volleyball) When we have a bad game, and the day is over, my dad's words are, "If I was the coach, you and your bed wetting team would still be running right now." He also threatens during the game, to call up Bruce on the cell and have him talk to the team. Runners think they know everything about anything.
Rage thinks he's so tough and macho. But one thing I bet no one knows is he drinks chai tea. Can you believe that? I myself had a hard time believing my eyes when I witnessed this. I was quick to inform Bruce because I felt I should be the one to let him know that the Rage had gone soft. Well that's the inside scoop of what it's like living with the Rage. There's no glitter and glamour but we love it anyway! It's pretty entertaining to live with my dad, yet incredibly embarrassing! He's a straight up classic and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Love ya dad, you're the best! - Jackie (2/15/03)
10kTruth Mailbag - Great site Rage. Here's a weird one. I'm an Irishman living in freezing Sweden and an Australian mate who's living here but not really into running, told me about your site. Don't know how he found it but glad he did. So, I've spent the morning reading it instead of working. Great stuff altogether and great to read of your respect towards the phenomenal Zatopek. Got to agree with you also. Running hurts but it's worth the pain. I remember vividly learning about all this one cold damp Sunday morning running in a 4 mile cross country race in the middle of the Irish winter. I was a skinny 15 year old. It was wet and mucky and the wind was blowing pretty heavily. I told the coach afterwards I was happy with the result and I enjoyed the run. He looked at me strangely. He was disgusted. "enjoyed it!!!! he exclaimed. What do you mean, you enjoyed it. You're not supposed to enjoy it," he shouted. "You're supposed to get around the course as fast as you can and if you can run yourself so hard into the ground that you need hospital attention afterwards, then you can say you enjoyed it. Only then you can you say you ran a good race." He gave me a bit of a shock and as a teenager, it might have been a bit much but he also told it as he saw it. I was enlightened.
14 years later and it's another Sunday morning (yesterday morning) and I spent 2 and a half hours running through a snowy Swedish forest with a bunch of elite Swedish orienteerers. It was minus 5 - we ran through marshes and really dodgy terrain and some of the guys got clobbered by branches, cut their faces and others put their foot through ice and fell and the other guys just kept on running. Nobody was bothered at all and the guys who got cut or fell just carried on. These guys were demons.
So, of course it's going to hurt but it felt great to be out in it, and the shower felt great after. Good to see you enlightening thousands more people today Rage and I love your race reports. Keep it up. - Colm (12/16/02)
More 10kTruth Correspondence at http://www.10ktruth.com/the_result/result.htm
"The greatest truth must be recognition that in every man, in every child is the potential for greatness." - Robert Kennedy
"I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." - Harry Truman
More Truth quotes at http://www.10ktruth.com/the_quotes/truth.htm
Recent 10kTruth Q&A - Q: My daughter and I are beginning a running program together. She is beginning her attendance at the UofO, having come to us from 2 years in the San Diego area. At 52 and 24 respectively, we will train for the June San Diego Marathon. My question is: is there a place I can get info on local race dates for 2003 in the Eugene area. Your web page is somewhat confusing to me. The link to the race page doesn't list much for our area http://www.10ktruth.com/the_races/schedule.htm and the other pages (with all due respect) don't list, they indulge. Your help is appreciated. Kenn
A: Sorry to disappoint you, Kenn, but this is the best available information to our knowledge in the local area and linked to the only other site we are aware of http://www.goodrace.com - With local events, the races typically appear the same time the following year, give or take a week and are firmed up within 45 - 60 days of the race dates and posted at www.goodrace.com. As you understand, with so many factors competing for local events, the race directors typically have to work these events around other competing local events. If you look back through the race results page on www.goodrace.com, you can get a rough idea of when the events will take place in 2003 within a two week window. This may be tough to enter into your Palm Pilot, but the Truffle Shuffle has a Valentines Day theme (that's around February 14 up here, usually the closest Saturday). The Run for the Shamrock happens pretty close to St. Patricks Day. The April Fools Run happens pretty close to April 1, you get the idea....But, the Butte to Butte ALWAYS happens on July 4, I wouldn't miss that one. That one however, will probably be going on pretty close to your San Diego Marathon...but maybe, it could be your final tune up. If you wanted to get some racing in for San Diego, I'd go with the Truffle Shuffle (4 miler), the Run for the Shamrock (10k) the April Fools Run (15k) and the Butte To Butte (10k). That's probably plenty of racing to spice up your marathon training. Hope this helps. - The Rage
"You may talk about Sweden, you may talk about Rome, but Rockville Center's Floyd Patterson's home. A lot of people said that Floyd couldn't fight, but you should have seen him on the comeback night." - Muhammad Ali More quotes by Ali at http://www.10ktruth.com/the_quotes/ali.htm
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Civil War Relay Race Report - http://www.10ktruth.com/the_races/civil.htm This was Coop's gig. All the way, baby. Running a race with his son for the first time convinced even the reclusive Manciata to join the band, especially when I told him Boz (e.g Todd Bosworth) would also be carrying the stick on this 5 member team, 50 mile relay from Autzen Stadium in Eugene to Linn Benton Community College.
The weather usually is terrible for this event, but today it was pretty darn good for November in Oregon.
The day had a rather ominous beginning, as a very unforgiving self-locking mechanism on our rental van apparently had some serious issues with Team "Leveraged Synergies" (sorry about the name, Coop) desire to participate in this event. A few phone calls later to triple A, along with some negotiating with the race director to delay our team's scheduled start time (not to mention administering some serious counseling to a distraught Coop) and a tow truck driver getting the keys back into our hands, we were finally off! We got into the last wave to depart with five minutes to spare!
Manciata led off with a spirited leg and handed off to Coop. Despite my weak attempts at defending his sorry ass for the locking the key in the van thing, he was basically defenseless as Boz laid down the first salvo of many more to come: "You can pick it up any time. This ain't the #$&!!! Portland Marathon, you know."
Next, Coop handed off to his son, Jasper. It doesn't get any better than that, in my book. As Henry Longhurst would say: "There's nothing else we can all do but watch." Dad and son slapped hands and I peeled off my sweats. I took Leg 4-the only leg I have ever run on my previous three CWRs. I knew it well, and darn near remembered every one of my splits.
I got to Egge Sand and Gravel with a decent opening leg and handed off to our anchor, Mr. Bosworth, who can bat cleanup on my team ANY TIME, baby. I love watching this guy run. Good turnover, very efficient and fast. He's very tough. Loves to throw a hard pace at you early just to hear you suck air and see how bad you want it. When he shows up at races, I can almost hear the collective groan from those (especially me) who had ideas on some cushy age group hardware, you understand what I'm sayin'? You know what I'm talkin' about?
I took the stick again at leg 9, a good speed benchmark for how far my speed had deteriorated over the years. I remembered running this leg at sub-11:00 one year with a great tailwind. Not today, and I don't think the wind had anything to do with it. There's a big difference between 42 and 46 years old. I was way off, but Bruce took my mind off my aging process making sure I didn't get lost. Boz made up for my pathetic effort on the next leg.
Now, we started getting into the hills. Bruce, Coop and Jasper kept us going, with Jasper getting a pretty good taste of what it's like when you get some hills thrown at you when you're tired. He seemed to be pacing himself well, and I was impressed with how he was handling his first relay.
Bruce was definitely back. Through three legs, he showed no signs of letting up....just rock solid running.
I redeemed myself with a solid third leg (Leg 14), pretty steep on the first mile and severe downhill on the second mile. I ran it in 12:18 and couldn't remember ever being under 12:25 on that leg. Must have moved the exchange point, but whose counting anyway, right?
Things started to get tough when we got out of the hills and onto the flats: Wind. Oh good. I'd rather do hills any day than grind it out on a long straight stretch, head down and the only thing in the distance is a couple of trees that never seem to get any closer. We all were starting to succumb to the leg 4 blues, but the amazing Boz and Bruce continued to hold pace.
Finally, Coop was the first one to smell the barn, methodically taking care of his 2.3 mile last leg and handing off to Jasper, who found out what the fifth leg of the Civil War Relay is like.
I managed a 12:02 on my last leg and we all hurried down to the track at Linn Benton Community College to greet Boz at the finish. My suggestion to Bruce that we stop at an Elmer's restaurant on the way home and debrief on how each of us could have done better was met with an icy stare. I decided instead to send him some of my notes, which included how we might deploy runners more efficiently using smoke jumper techniques.
We finished well off one overly optimistic team captain's predicted finish, but managed a top 10 finish at 5 hours, 35 minutes. Not bad for four old guys and a rookie.
And that's The Truth.
Some Civil War Relay Quotes - "Are your tozies a little sore, Rage?" - Manciata
"I wanna see that pony tail bounce." - Manciata
More Running quotes at http://www.10ktruth.com/the_quotes/run.htm
Copyright 2003, Mike Logan, Bruce Manclark & Cory Eberhart. All Rights Reserved.
10k Truth - A Runner's Compendium For runners with the attitude to train harder and smarter along with some really weird raging stuff! http://www.10ktruth.com
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