Mar 03 2013


Day 555: A good day.

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A long time ago, on my “About” page, I wrote:

I’ll only call myself recovered if/when, that effort yields racing times comparable to my pre-injury performance.

And, on my “Things I think I’ve Learned” page, I wrote:

Accept that, despite your very best efforts, there is a chance the goal may not be achievable.

Prior to rupturing my Achilles, I was certain that my fastest times were still ahead of me. Being fairly new to this (very technical) sport, I knew that improvements in my form were still capable of outpacing any age related reductions in my physiological performance.

To be honest, after struggling through two post ATR seasons on the ice, I was starting to question that premise. I was starting to lose confidence that I’d ever be able to get back to my pre injury times.

Warming up at the North American Championships

Mar 3, 2013: 555 days post surgery. This was my 3rd consecutive day of racing at the North American Championships. I had a great 1000m race, finishing in 1:22.11. This time was 0.07s slower than my all time (pre-injury) personal best; which I considered to be “in the noise”. I also started from what I consider to be the significantly more difficult outer lane. Most importantly (at least to me) that was faster than 1:22.59, which is the 2012/2013 qualifying time standard for the US Masters MAT1 team for the 1K in my age group.

A few weeks later, I had almost an identical result in the 500m. Day 1 of the International Masters Sprint Games (our World Championships), I did the 500m in 41.44s, missing my pre injury personal best time by only 0.08s.

Day 2 of that meet was the last day of racing for the 2012/2013 season. I dropped my 500m time to 41.29s. A new, all time, personal best. The first PB for me in over 2 years. The first since my injury.

It took 18+ months: but I was finally back.

This picture was taken during the 1st corner of my (new!) personal best 500m race

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Dec 10 2012


Race Video

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Some newer race video- shot Jan 23, 2013. I feel OK about both of these races. My mid season times are right where they were during my best (pre ATR) season. The question remains: with a late season race taper (for the Masters Sprint World Championships) will the speed find me like it did last time? I’m almost exactly 1second per lap slower than my target right now (at all distances).

Pretty tough to see in the tiny frame- click the “youtube” button on the lower right to watch it in a larger, better resolution format.

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Oct 03 2012


Slow and steady

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Though frustratingly slow at times, strength:

and, Dorsi-flexion:

continue to improve.

51 responses so far

Sep 13 2012


1 Year: Scar Ripped Open

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Well, sort of :-)

If I did that right, you can click on the image for a big version. Still a few minor touch-ups to go.

I think the genesis of this idea happened way back in week 1: Housebound, stuck on the couch, wondering what was under that big surgical cast. What the heck, my days as an ankle model were probably over anyways… or who knows, maybe they’re just starting. It’s been in the works for months now.

Are any of you sensitive around your scar area. Well, um… yeah…

I’ll always have something to remind me of this long journey.

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Aug 24 2012


1 year (since injury).

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365 days ago, I wandered out to the parking lot here at work to do a little sprint workout…

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Jun 19 2012


Stairs and Crutches + Moon Boot Walking

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Since this topic keeps coming up:

I went poking around for an existing video to demonstrate. To my surprise, I couldn’t find anything on youtube that showed this method. So I just shot my own (which was easier than trying to explain this via typing).

Of course, if you have Candadian/elbow crutches, this is pretty much what you’re going to do anyway.

Thinking back, I think I learned this from my dad, when I was first on crutches as a little kid. He was a college football player, who had multiple knee injuries/surgeries, so he was very well versed/practiced in the use of crutches.

This may not be for everybody as it may require more than average upper body strength. But, if you can do it, I really think it makes stairs MUCH easier, safer, and faster.

The topic of how to walk in a cam boot often comes up too. Here’s a short little video that attempts to demonstrate a common mistake (that leads to uneven walking, and a lot of stress on your knee):

Instead of pushing your knee back… you initiate the step by pushing it (your knee) firmly forward. You’ll feel pressure, up the front of your shin, as your lower leg drives forward into the boot structure. As you do this, it naturally causes the boot to rotate - the heel will lift off the ground, and the boot will start to roll onto it’s “toe”. Then, from that position, with a bent knee, you step forward… pushing “down” to drive yourself forward. You’ve got to have the boot rotated forward enough so that the “press” (through the heel, with a relaxed ankle, you don’t want to try and press though your toes, via the hurt achilles) doesn’t start to rotate the boot back to flat. Rather, that press should drive you forwards, and as you extend, roll the boot even a little bit farther onto it’s toe as you complete the step.

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May 05 2012


8 months - video update

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I’m just a little past the 8-month (post surgery) mark.

Slow steady progress. I’m still a ways from 100%, but the strength continues to improve, and I can’t think of any activity that the injury would dictate I should avoid. I’m just not as strong or as fast as I should/could be, and there is still a strength deficit on my right side. I’ve been training pretty hard (a lot more cycling) the last couple of months, and am finally starting to see signs of some fitness returning.

Dorsiflexion is a mixed bag. With my legs straight - stressing the Gastrocnemius muscle - I am now more flexible on my right side than my left. Unfortunately, I think that’s because I heven’t quite fully recovered from the ski crash (Jan 24 blog entry) on my left side ;-). With my knees bent - stressing the soleus muscle - I most definitely hit the limit on the right side first.

I *still* get swollen sometimes; in fact just yesterday, I was swollen after a hard inline skate session.

Happy healing everybody.

6 responses so far

Mar 21 2012


Powder Day

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It hasn’t been the best year for snow around here. But we got DUMPED on this weekend:

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Feb 20 2012


6 Months.

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Feb 24, 2012, marks 6 months from the day I fully ruptured my right Achilles.

This is part of the Angels Landing Trail, in Zion’s National Park. This is a particularly fun part of the trail, I think it’s called Walter’s Wiggles. My wife Joan (that’s her in the picture) and I climbed it back on Feb 12. This picture seems like a perfect metaphor for the ATR recovery, it’s a long tough climb from our starting point, filled with lots of twists and turns.

That climb up Angels Landing was done on the 1st day of a 3 day vacation. The day after this hike, we spent a good 8 hours walking - in and around the Vegas strip, shopping malls, etc. Day 3 brought even more walking, outlet malls, Freemont Street, back to the Strip, and such. It was a very rigorous test of my Achilles, and it handled it fine. So, I’m declaring myself essentially recovered. I’m not quite 100% yet, still lacking some strength on my right side, but I’m able to do everything I was able to do before the injury. Sometimes I can’t do those things quite as fast, or for as long - but the injury no longer dictates what I do.

Though still a subtext of my life, the ATR is no longer the plot.

One of my final goals has been to do a little speedskating racing this year. I did so - a 1000m race - for the first time on Feb 18. I’ve got two hurt legs, plus I’d been sick for a few weeks… so needless to say, I didn’t exactly set a blistering time. But, I finished my race, didn’t hurt myself, and skated exactly the time I was expecting; if not the one I was hoping for. All things considered, I have to allow myself be very satisfied with that accomplishment. I’ll do some more racing, and hope/expect to improve my times somewhat, but accept that any racing this year is going to be “just for fun”. Before this injury, my goal for the season was to crack the top 10 for my age-group. That’s obviously not going to happen: this is a “preparation sport”, and this injury has essentially robbed me of a full season of training and fitness.

Here is a little racing video from Feb 25. This is the start of my 1st (post ATR) 500m race, and the 2nd (of 5) corner of a 1000m race. I’m in the light grey skinsuit. Both of these races (500), (1000) - were good enough for a top ~50 spot (as of Feb 25… the season isn’t over, I’ll get bumped down the list as faster times are posted).

My hope is that by the time I hit the one year mark - after a full season/summer of cycling, and hiking, plus 6 more months of strength training - that I’ll truly be back close to where I started; with full fitness and ready to hit next race season hard.

A ski video I shot on 2/26; on the 6 month anniversary of my surgery.

I owe many of you here a BIG thanks for all the support and information. This injury is certainly a tough one, and it sure was nice to not feel like I had to go through it alone. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was the new guy here, asking all sorts of dumb questions.

This isn’t a farewell, but I expect this will probably be my last blog entry for quite a while. I’ll drop in occasionally to check up on you all :-)

Good luck everybody!

9 responses so far

Jan 24 2012


Don’t do THIS:

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Shot this video with my helmet cam today. I figured it would be wince inducing for my fellow Achilles sufferers. Amazingly, my injured (right) side is OK. I go see the doc tomorrow to figure out how bad my left side is hurt (tore something at the *top* of my left calf muscle).

15 responses so far

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