Training: Sept 19-Oct 9

As I type this, I am sitting in a chair with a block of synthetic ice wrapped around my right upper hamstring and groin. I’ve tried to avoid my naughty bits, but to effectively ice your groin (more specifically, adductor) muscles, you need to let things slide a little geographically, as it were.

You know, and I’m not saying this sarcastically, for once — the past few months have been amazing. I’ve met some kind and generous people, both in person and virtually (although I hope to eventually bridge those digital divides with many of them). Many have been a great source of information and support. I don’t know that I could have accepted my current predicament without them.

I’m now convinced that I have a stress fracture of the femoral neck. So, here’s something fun: when I was interviewing the elites at the Fifth Avenue Mile event late last month, I got the opportunity to talk with Shannon Rowbury. Another reporter was asking her about injuries and she mentioned the femoral neck stress fracture that hobbled her after high school. I asked her the what the symptoms (and progression) were and they were dead on.

Several of you mentioned this likelihood as well — and don’t think I forgot about that exciting reader contest. If in a month I can actually run without pain, I’m going to declare that diagnosis sound (and, I hope, myself cured) and I will randomly distribute the virtual loot accordingly to one lucky amateur diagnostician, as promised.

Being the biggest amateur diagnostician of all, I have concluded that all of those incredible muscle knots were, aside from being red herrings, a reaction to the fracture. Or maybe they’d always been there and I’d never noticed them because I never had a proper massage or bothered to try rolling them out.

The update on those is that they are all gone. Not only that, but I have loosened up my IT band (and broken up scar tissue that ran along the top part) to the extent that I can roll happily and pain-free, where in the past such activity made me shriek in agony. I can only hope that once I’m actually running again, all of this loosening up will mean a bigger stride — and that means faster running.

But back to my current stay in injury purgatory. I did a lot of walking/standing around Sept 22-26, in conjunction with the Fifth Ave Mile event (interviewing and then volunteering) and also for a new freelance project. I felt all that walking afterwards — the deep, gluteal pain was back and I was a little mad at myself for having pushed things. I took a couple days off (and used the car more), which helped. Then early this month I made a quick trip out to Arizona, so obviously didn’t do anything trainingwise during those days. Then got back and work was crazy again. I was tired from the travel and sleep disruption anyway, so I took off the Tuesday I got back without much guilt.

Now I’m back and can honestly say that I’m working my ass off again. I am averaging 2 to 2.5 hours of gymwork a day. I have rarely gone twice a day, but I may start doing so on days that aren’t as busy with work, so I can break things up a little more and enable some recovery.

It’s not only physically difficult to, say, do an hour of spinning, then stretching/rolling, then weights, then pool running. It’s also quite hard mentally. If I don’t get it over with in the morning, then I literally have to drag myself to the gym in the afternoon. By which time I’m in a terrible mood and seething with a mixture of resentment and despair.

How have other runners dealt with long term injury? I wonder about this. On one hand, I think that doing the alternate training helps because at least I feel like I’m doing something and I get to maintain the chemically-based mood enhancers that I have come to depend on getting from hard exercise. (You think I’m depressed now? You should see me without exercise.) But on the other hand, the whole rigarmarole is a daily reminder of the fact that I can’t run.

I got up this morning at about 7:00 and it was 52F out, sunny and dry. It was the kind of day that I would have loved to have run the 14 miles up to White Plains and back. I know I’m whining. I know it’s unattractive. I can’t help it.

Houston Hopefuls: A new wing has been added

With Facebook fans clamoring for information, I’ve added a new page to the Houston Hopefuls site: Updates! It has…updates!

New Houston Hopeful Interview: Julie Wankowski

“Don’t sweat the small stuff; focus on your goals; take it day by day; and never doubt that you can do it.”

If these aren’t words fit to live by, then I give up.

Houston Hopefuls > Julie Wankowski

Failed Fiction: “Human Resources”

I sometimes try my hand at fiction. It’s a huge struggle and I usually end up hating what I’ve written anyway, so it’s a rare outing for me. I was going to start up a separate website for my failed stories. But I already have too many websites to maintain properly and I don’t need the pressure. So I’ll just post the unwanted detritus here for your enjoyment and derision.

As for the history of this piece, I wrote it for NPR’s most recent 3 Minute Fiction contest. It was, of course, rejected.


Human Resources

Brian leans in. “Okay,” he smiles. “Are you ready for this one?”

He begins: “So we have this massive project that’s weeks behind. I have to hire someone, like, yesterday to do the coding. I’ve only got one name, someone named Craig. But I’ve never met him.”

Brian takes a sip of beer. “I do a phone interview on Thursday afternoon and he checks out. His references and samples are great. Thank God. I ask him to come in Friday for an interview, although at this point I’m sold. But we have to meet him to be able to say we did.”

Brian shifts a little on his bar stool. “Next morning, I get a call from downstairs security that I have a visitor and can I come down to sign him in. So I go down and there’s this guy standing there: suit, button-down shirt, tie, decent haircut. And…earrings.”

Brian pauses for the reaction. “So you’re probably thinking, well, so? He wears an earring. He’s a weekend warrior.”

Brian shakes his head. “No, it’s not like that. The guy’s wearing, like, women’s earrings. They match. And they’re, you know, elegant. I mean, I’m not a jewelry expert or anything. But these looked expensive.”

Brian’s eyes are alight. “Right! You’re doing what I wanted to do. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t laugh at this guy because I really needed to hire him. So I try to ignore the earrings and I bring him upstairs and steer him straight into the interview room. It’s a group interview, so Scott and Nicole are waiting.”

Brian moves the bottle so it’s perfectly centered on the coaster.  “So Scott is just sort of, okay, whatever. He’s taking it in stride. But Nicole is like a deer in the headlights. She’s looking for the nearest plant to crawl behind. She can’t even look at the guy.”

The bar’s filling up now. “So the interview’s going okay. Craig’s giving us all the right answers and he’s basically hired. I’m not worrying about the earrings. I know this won’t fly with management, but I have to deal with that later. Maybe hide him until I can straighten him out on the dress code. Right now I just need a programmer who can start on Monday.”

Brian lowers his voice to a near whisper. “We’re winding down the interview and then, there’s this weird moment. I swear to God, this guy has done something with his head, something really subtle. It’s almost like he’s swiveled it in a certain way. To show off the earrings.”

Brian picks at the label of his empty bottle. “I know, right? This is so strange. And now I’m thinking it’s some kind of trick. Like some twisted kind of diversity training we’re being put through.”

A big group of loud women are filing in. “So Scott’s texting me all weekend. This is all either of us can think about. What happens if he shows up in something else on Monday? We’re actually taking bets. It’s funny. But it’s not funny.”

Every bar stool’s taken. “Okay, so Monday I’m at my desk and I get a call from downstairs. It’s Craig. I have to go sign him in. Oh, God. I’m listening for a clue, anything, in the security guy’s voice. But I can’t tell.”

The bartender taps Brian on the arm. “Gentlemen. Sorry to interrupt. Another round?”

Posts I wish I’d written

From my friend TK over at Pigtails Flying: An Open Letter to a Fall Marathoner


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