Thursday, November 7, 2013

Arizona trip

Well, Javelina didn't go as planned.  I went out aggressively with the leaders- hoping to run under 14 hours.  I managed 70 miles in about 10 hours, but had to quit to avoid serious injury.  The last 40 of those miles were full of pain from a foot problem.  My feet had been aching coming into the race from the Bear 100, but I thought plenty of rest would fix them.  I also started in Hokas because the softness seemed to help the pain.  While running, I took some Ibuprofen and that worked for a while, but as the heat grew into the 90's I was unwilling to take any more meds for fear of kidney problems.  I had the lead after the 50k mark (3:54), but I had to stop after the next lap to ice my feet.  There, I changed into a SCOTT road shoe (AF Trainer) and that felt a little better.  Hal and an Arizona guy named Catlow passed me while I sat in the aid for 15 minutes.  I decided to try to go some more.  I managed another good lap to mile 60.  The pain was unbearable as I climbed up the hill to Jackass Pass at mile 70.  I stayed close to second place on the way up.  There, I asked the aid volunteers if I dropped, if I could get a ride back to the start.  The foot pain was severe and I feared it was breaking a bone in there.   I decided to quit.

I felt great, except for the foot thing.  I had to hang there for a while before my ride left.  I cheered on the other runners while I drank some beers.  First beer in a while.  It was great hanging out with Ian and greeting Hal at the finish.

The next day, presumably from limping for 40 miles, I had a big black and blue bruise indicating a bad strain of my right calf.  This was from favoring that bad left foot.  I had a lot of pain in my right hip/groin too.  I came into the race fantastically fit, but my tissues were obviously still recovering from the strain of the Bear, less than 1 month earlier.  The effort felt easier than any ultra I had ever done.  I had an unfulfilled season and I was trying to get one more good one before the fall fitness wore off and the snow fell.  I will learn from this and move on without regrets.  I had a nice time down there.  Running with Hal K, Joe G and Ian was fantastic.  We kept a good conversation going for the first 30 miles. They gave me a drop-down finish of the 100k- 8hrs 53 mins.  I'm not a fan of consolation prizes, so I didn't take a buckle.  I quit the race, plain and simple.

Now, I am taking a full month off of running.  I am almost 2 weeks into it and my feet, calf and hip still hurt.  I had a weird year- some success and several near misses.  My energy has never been higher as I make out 2014's race calendar.  I am actually looking forward to the torturous grind of training season.  I have some really big plans...

Early in the race- Hal, me, Joe G, Ian (Coury Photo)

Leading after 2 laps.  It was getting really hot. (Coury Photos
The Rhodes kids were a fantastic crew.

Arizona Hot Springs, near Hoover Dam.  Brandi and I stopped here for a quick run a few days before the race.  A great wash leads down to the Colorado River.  From here you climb up a very narrow slot canyon and climb up a ladder to the very hot pools.


  1. Curious what your injury was/is? Are you just resting it or some other tx as well?
    I hope you heal up very soon!!

  2. Hi Erin. Hope all is well with you. Here is my best guess on the issues:

    Feet: Could be a stress fracture of the 5th metatarsal, but more likely bad tendonitis of the peroneal ligament attachment on the bottom/outsides of both feet.

    Calf: Simple strain. Not worried about this one, improving quickly.

    I am most worried about the hip/groin area- which could just be tendonitis from a groin/adductor strain, or a more serious case of sports hernia/gilmore groin. I've had the hip thing all year. It went away a few times, but came back again after Javelina. It's not bad now, but it's alarming how many times it has come back. I will see the doctor if another few weeks off doesn't cure it.

    For me, it all comes down to what happened at Western States. I really took a beating there. All the lingering problems started there. It really set me back. I'm committed to resting until all of that is out of my system. It will be a long winter. Plenty of time to build it up again. Not a set back at all in my mind.

  3. Yikes! yes, you are smart to rest completely! You are young & will bounce back even stronger I am sure of it.
    I know the frustration of injuries though...I hope you will see someone if the nagging hip thing doesn't heal up.
    No matter what, you have had a very VERY impressive year - !!

  4. Thanks Erin. No frustration at all. The injuries make it easier to rest thoroughly- which we should all do after a big season. Rest is just not that hard for me anyway. I have a theory of addiction related to ultrarunners. We are all addicted to 1 of 4 things.

    1. Addiction to the culture and social scene, group runs, races, etc
    2. Addiction to weight loss/ body image compulsion
    3. Addiction to the physical act of running- endorphins, etc.
    4. Addiction to improvement in performance and competition

    For a #4, like me, rest is critical and easily tolerated- so long as it is calculated to improve performance. I sincerely believe that TRAINING = WORK + REST. Numbers 1-3 usually believe that TRAINING = WORK - REST.

    $4's have their own problems. My desire to jam in one more performance against top competition caused me to believe I could manage the injury issues for 100 miles at Javelina.

  5. Jeremy,

    I've had a similar peroneus longus/brevis issue for the last few months. Have you felt any knots higher up the tendons? For instance, just behind and above your ankle bone, or even 8-10 inches higher up on the outside of your calf? I've had pain both on the outside of my 5th meta (where the tendon comes in, basically the base of my pinkie toe) and a few inches behind that. I've mostly found that I then have knots higher up on my leg which is causing pinching or increased strain. Foam rolling and massage have helped a lot. Hope it clears up soon for you!

    Best wishes,

  6. Yep, I had the same little knots higher up the calf. I did 3 massages and tons of self PT work after the Bear. It was just unreasonable to expect the body to do 2 all out hundos in a month.

    I also feel that my choice to wear a support insole in October was a big mistake. I supinate- meaning I come down hard on the outside of the foot and I don't roll over to the big toe like normal (pronation). The firmer footbed pushed into the damaged tendons and irritated them. I think this locked in the tendonopathy. This is why the softer Hoka shoe gave me hope I could finish- because it is softer on that outside edge and did not push into the injury.

  7. Sorry to hear that; hopefully some well-earned rest will clear it up.

  8. I'm a #4 too, and have been struggling with a very similar hip/groin issue after my first 100. Still hasn't completely healed after more than 2 months. Did you ever determine what your hip/groin issue was, and what kind of treatment did you do since it sounds like you're already getting some runs in again. Thanks!

    1. Mine is not completely healed. I believe it is some kind of torn adductor/groin where it joins the pelvis, coupled with a low abdominal dysfunction from overcompensating. I did not see any medical doctor, just my Chiro. I believe the problem was from The Bear's snowy/muddy footing. Running a mountain 100 is murder on the hip flexors. Mine were exhausted and tightening up after just 15 miles. This was from lugging those heavier shoes covered with mud and frozen snow. After the race, I had really bad soreness in the muscles lateral to my psoas and hip flexor area, that ran down my leg into my quads. I believe this muscle failed early in the Bear race and force my adductor (groin) muscles to overcompensate for 80+ miles. Whenever I have a muscle fail on me, then continue on, it is the opposite muscle that pays the price.
      Then, I rested and went to Arizona. It still hurt to do a basic quad stretch (pull heel up to butt while standing). With this muscle still not fully functional, the groin issue went really bad. This was probably made worse by the broken or badly strained feet.
      I have slowly built strength in the area, but certain moves still aggravate the groin- like 2 foot box jumps. 1 foot= no problem, 2 feet = pain. I have noticed great improvements by doing strength routines for the core and hips. Here are the key moves that have helped most:
      1. Front Elbow Plank with one foot off the ground. Alternate feet every 10-15 seconds. Do 4x1 min. The "weak" side will be difficult at first with this one.
      2. Hanging knee ups. This one really hurt at first, but it really targets the low ab area where my pain was coming from.
      1. 10 each in continuous circuit- do 2-3 sets: Clamshell, Reverse Clamshell, Lying Lateral Leg Raise, Jane Fonda.
      2. 2x10 Side Plank with shins on Bosu Ball. Knee to chest, Drop and raise. See here:
      3. I have a universal hip machine in my gym. I do lateral, medial (ouch) and front hip flexor raises with pretty low weight. When I do these 3 exercises above, I notice an instant improvement the next day. I am aiming to stay on a 3x/week regimen, maybe forever. Most running injuries are purported to be from weak hips.

      Also, do all of these 3x a week: This routine is from The Oregon Project- done by Mo and Galen to stay injury free. Some of the exercises above are from this routine.

      I am running very little now- as is usual during the McCall winter. I am backcountry skiing a ton, and doing lots of cross training in the gym: pool running, biking, circuit classes, etc. After a month off, my cardio fitness was better than ever. I am putting a whipping on the ski hill with the climbing skins almost daily. The pool running seems to really help the groin issue in particular.

      My Chiro, Dr. Guy Jeppe of McCall Chiropractic is working on me 3x a week now to correct lots of misalignment from the rough season I had. He said my sacrum was cocked way out and causing my hips to over-work. It has taken about 8 visits and my lower back is finally loosening up and the sacrum is aligning properly. I am feeling stronger daily from my treatments. He does the standard back/neck/illio-sacral stuff, but he also does limb and foot alignments. This is critical for a shin splinter like me. This has been key to my comeback. I will do a full post on this stuff really soon.

      Good luck Josh.

  9. Wow, the similarities are amazing in what we've been experiencing with this hip/groin/lower ab issue! Thanks so much for the response, and I look forward to incorporating all these exercises into my recovery.

    The Bear really tore me up more than I thought, and it took me 10 hours longer than you! Hopefully I'll eventually come out stronger from it all. Best of luck to you too as you recover through the winter.

  10. Yikes! That is indeed upsetting. There is always a next time, though. However, right now is an opportunity to be resilient and innovative in formulating means to either minimize or eliminate your pain completely right at the source. I'm hoping for your fast recovery, Jeremy. All the best!

    Emmett Fletcher @ CK Physiotherapy

    1. Hi Emmett,
      Water under the bridge. That was 12+ months ago. I always have my health seems to go with pushing my limits, but the only lingering this that has poked up a few times this year was the groin thing. I find that if I work my glutes and abductors with some strength moves and roll these muscles hard with a ABS drain pipe and a baseball, the groin thing stays away. I also do a general hip/back routine most mornings I call the "Chiropractor." It is 2x20 reps of scorpions and iron crosses. Takes about 2-3 minutes. This loosens and pops my back and opens my hip muscles in a nice dynamic blood pumping wake up that makes me feel so good.