Seebo's Run

A running commentary on my training and whatever else emerges from that.

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Little More

Five miles this morning on the treadmill. Plan was to do three, then four, then five. Started at 8 minute pace and brought it down to 7:30. There was some discomfort in the ankle, but my stride felt good, and my head was devoid of the gait analysis that drove me nuts the last few times I've run. So while it still sucks to be running on a treadmill on a day like this, it was as good a workout as I could dare to hope for.

One reason for the clear head has been some advice I've been getting, from which collectively I'm getting the message that all this self-talk is "normal" and will pass. Just keep running. And I did. So I'm feeling back on the comeback trail, or treadmill.

With that said, I'm traveling tomorrow and Thursday and will likely not get a chance to run or blog. If I had a streak to keep up I suppose I could fit a workout in, but I don't. Regardless of whether I run or not, with each day the ankle gets stronger again. And each day I run gets me feeling a bit more confident.

5 miles in 38:08.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Here It Goes Again

3 more miles on the treadmill. 23:53.

Ran without the ankle brace today, still held my hand close to the railing on the treadmill. I'm still psyching myself out thinking of my form, can't tell if its real or if I'm imagining favoring the outside of my foot. Waiting to roll. And then, if I visualize it, am I setting myself up to do so again? And on and on. The only way to get off of this mental treadmill is to visualize the form on my left foot. I notice that I go through the same anxieties there.

Also tough mentally to run indoors on a beautiful day like today, watching mindless ESPN drones prattle on about whether or not the Patriots ran up the score yesterday or whether A-Rod was wrong in announcing his opt-out.

But I will stay on the treadmill for the immediate future. Its boring and mind-numbing, but it is safe and right now I need that. I saw a comment on yesterday's post from Vince, saying he'd been there. Vince (or anyone else with similar experiences), I'd be very interested to hear more about how you got past this. Email me ( or leave a more detailed comment.

Good news is I made a physical therapy appointment, bad news is it isn't until next Wednesday. So I'm on my own for awhile.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Not With a Bang But a Whimper

That's how my second comeback in as many weeks started out.

Against my doc's better judgment but not against his orders, I went out of bit of a run this afternoon. Ran 1/2 mile to USP, 2 on the treadmill, and another 1/2 home.

It was not a pretty run. Had on my big clunky ankle brace and had my eyes peeled to the ground for surface irregularities. I've run in many conditions but I've never run in as much fear as I have today. Fear that one of the thousands of steps I'd take, just one, would land a little bit crooked.

But everything turned out fine. I had one very minor misstep going over the trolley tracks on Woodland, and I was happy for once to get on the hamster wheel, where the security of the smooth surface was augmented by the handrails that I made sure my hands stayed close to. I got the treadmill up to 8.5 minute mile pace, which for today felt plenty fast.

Anaerobically I didn't break a sweat, but it wasn't about that. It was about getting back on the horse. My running felt like a mess today, very tentative. Don't know how to get past that, can't see myself ever running on courses like at Belmont Plateau.

But I know better than to do that. I know to just do what I can right now. Run a little bit, on the treadmill. Make my physical therapist appointment tomorrow. And trust that the horizon will broaden and obscured things will become more clear the farther along I go. A day at a time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Square Two

Saw Ira again today and traded the soft cast for an ankle brace and a scrip for physical therapy. He was ambivalent about whether I could run or not saying I could if I wanted but that he'd wait until I got started with my PT. I think he regularly gets patients who are climbing the walls to get out there and play sports again.

This time around I'm not feeling that way, as I'm a bit reticent due to the circumstances of my most recent sprain. The thing that spooks me is that the ankle just seemed to buckle when I came down on it, that I didn't really do anything. But I'll take it a day at a time, first I need to get used to the brace, which rubs a little too much against my calf after less than a full afternoon of wearing it. And then to find myself a good PT. After that maybe a bit of the old hamster wheel to start back. We'll see.

In the meantime we're heading into November and October has been a total bust. Missed some really great weather and alot of good races. But I haven't been climbing the walls. Instead my withdrawal is much lower grade. Its a low-level depression that sets in that I can't figure out the reason for until I see someone running. And its amazing how many more runners seem to be about when you are not.

Mostly its the stress relief that I miss, the escape hatch being blocked off when I've got alot on my mind. Having a room full of cobwebs for want of a broom to clear them with.

And then not being able to write about it for lack of something to say.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Square One

A quick update on my foot.

Tried to stay off of it as much as possible since last blogging. This is harder than it seems. Its hard for me to beg off on various obligations that I had, including teaching part of a class for a colleague and driving my daughter to a meeting in NE Philly, because of my foot. Looking at it objectively, I am very justified in saying I couldn't do it, but I find it very hard to say no. Everyone involved has been very understanding but me. Personal stuff I need to deal with.

By 1pm yesterday I cut through my avoidance long enough to call Ira's office. I figured I'd need to see him at some point for guidance on my eventual return to running, so better do it sooner than waiting a week like I did the first time around. They fit me in to see him that afternoon. Long story short, after x-rays it looks like I'm exactly where I was the first time I saw him... he again put my ankle in a soft cast and told me to see him in a week. This time around, though, I'd definitely need a round of physical therapy as part of my recovery.

So I feel better - partly because I feel a greater acceptance of the fact that I'm done for the season, partly because I feel that I'm on a regimen for recovery, however long that may take. So I'll adjust to the downtime and maybe even gain a few pounds.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Cankle Returns

Just when I thought it was safe to go back on the roads.

I went back to Columbus on business on Friday and Reba and I headed out to the hills of Western Maryland for a long weekend, and I figured that at this point in my recovery rest would be preferable to cramming in little runs between all that.

So this morning I went out again for the first time since Thursday. I headed out to Tinicum to do four - 2 out and 2 back. The foot felt funny, I never could get a comfortable stride where I felt like I wasn't favoring it or otherwise coming down on it unnaturally. I tried mixing speeds a bit which was about the only thing to feel good. I was running on the rutted path that makes up the "boring part" of the Tinicum trails, and was about a mile and three-quarters out when without warning my ankle rolled in and I was in intense pain.

Only the ducks and the rabbits were there to hear me yell and curse in extreme pain and anger. As best I could tell, I didn't step into anything as much as I just came down on my foot and it rolled. After hopping around a bit and feeling the world spinning from the pain for a few minutes, I set out to hobble back on a long walk back to Reba's house.

The cankle now looks almost identical to how it looked three weeks ago. I'm thinking that I'm starting from scratch again, complete with crutches and a trip back to Ira. I'm also very aware that I face the prospect of being more prone to subsequent sprains as well, along with the psychological demons that I expect will make their presence felt when I get back to running.

I know I shouldn't be thinking this far ahead at this point, but its hard not to. I'm bummed.

I'll keep the blog updated.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Farther and Faster

I'm overthinking this whole ankle business.

I got out this morning and extended Tuesday's route a little bit (out to 49th instead of 48th Sts) to make it 3.5 miles. I'm afraid I'm favoring the ankle and turning my right foot more inward to avoid pain in the outer tendons above the ankle. I think if I don't think about it then I will do that, but also when I think about it I can't figure out what is "right" and what isn't. Somehow I have in my mind that if I pick things up a bit then I will fall back into a more natural motion. But there is on some level a fear in doing this as I have to push myself to pick things up.

I thought I went faster until I saw that I passed the 38th/Hamilton Walk checkpoint in 9:49, slower than on Tuesday. I then turned on to Locust Walk about 15 meters behind a runner who looked to be running a recreational clip. I had to push myself, however, to maintain this gap between me and the rabbit, which was exactly what I needed. When rabbit turned left of 40th, I kept up at this faster pace which, despite my fears, felt comfortable and more natural.

As a result, I finished the 3.5 mile loop in 28:56. A bit farther and a bit faster than on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tramps Like Us...

Got back from the Springsteen show at the Meadowlands last night. It was a birthday present to Maricela. Like I told her, she can stop going to concerts now, as she's never gonna see anything better than that. For those interested in more, setlist is here.

The concert also proved to be my second workout for the day. Between walking from the car to the arena and standing before and during the show, I was on my feet easily for three hours. My ankle (no longer a cankle but still a little swollen) really started to feel it and, curiously, my left leg started mimicking that pain as well. The soreness was apparent when I was just standing, and felt much better if I was moving around or dancing. As if I needed another push to do so.

Anyway, the ankle still didn't feel like running on it would be a good idea this morning so I passed up on my plan to get a few miles in. Too bad, as the sun is beautiful and a chill seems to have taken the edge off of this October heat.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

You Don't Miss Your Water...

... till your well runs dry.

Two weeks ago I sprained by ankle. Yesterday Ira gave my ankle a clean bill of health. Just as he appeared amazed at how swollen it was last week, he expressed surprise at how much the swelling went down over the course of last week. He took off my soft cast, gave me strengthening exercises to do, and said I could run as I felt comfortable.

That was great to hear. In response to that I laced up my shoes this morning and went out for 30 minutes. I took it slow but when I hit 38th by Hamilton Walk in 9:38, I saw that I've run this first mile slower. Gradually my ankle started to ache, mainly along the sides of the calves (actually above the ankle) where I have felt the most pain from the sprain. 30 minutes is the most I would want to go this morning.

Now I have the ankle elevated and am icing it. It remains sore and we'll see how it feels after a day of walking around on it before deciding what to do tomorrow. Contrary to what other people may think, I'm in no hurry to get back to cheetah mode. I'm also concerned that I may be favoring the ankle and thereby impede its healing. Last time I had a bad sprain, back in 2000, I feel that I did this and it took months before the ankle was pain free.

I have a head full of thoughts, but I'll take things a day at a time. Before today I haven't run anything in two weeks. I don't remember the last time I was completely celibate for that long. What I missed most about running was the head clearing qualities of being out there for awhile, especially on a beautiful morning. I missed the racing some, but this weekend, with the heat and the major marathons, left me thinking how I can lament my misfortunate injury or I could have lamented actually being out in Minneapolis running TCM. Either way, I would have cursed the running gods. But I think that all this preparation for a day that may not come, or, perhaps worse, comes in a less than ideal form, is a strong indicator that the fulfillment one gets from this wretched sport doesn't come on the race course. The quest for PR's, I have a feeling, are ultimately a chimera we chase while what we seek is literally underfoot.

Its a thought I've been playing with. Not well developed but, after thinking about it during this downtime, there seems to be some truth here.

3.2 miles on this loop in 30:09. Slow and steady.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Swelling hadn't gone down any over the weekend, so I took the advice of wise people and went to the doctor. Went to see Ira Meyers, quite a runner himself (won Philly Marathon back in '86) and someone whose assessment I trust.

The good news is that he said that it didn't appear to be more than a sprain, the bad news is that he started talking of soft casts and physical therapy and the like. But he qualified that with saying that he couldn't say for sure what the prognosis was until the swelling went down. So I've got an appointment to see him again next week and will rest the leg as much as I can (including crutches) until then.

I won't go into how much it sucks not to run. As an alternative, I am running a bit more vicariously these days. So to go along with Geb, my buddy Paul also PR'd in Berlin and Reba PR'd at the Parkway Run. And best of all, my boy Tony has been picked to run in a middle school XC meet next week.