Sunday, February 04, 2007

Problems from the feet up

Date: Feb. 4
Mileage: 25.8
February mileage: 96.4
Temperature upon departure: 36

This entire time I have been training for the Susitna 100, my boyfriend, Geoff, has been working toward the same race. We haven't seen each other much in the process because while my training involves a couple of hours of cycling every morning, Geoff has been in high-intensity training to run the race. With no mechanical help. For 100 snowbound miles.

Even though neither of us really committed to the race until mid-December, training was going well. He ran 50 miles last week in less than 10 hours and felt great about it. So great, in fact, that he did a couple of 20-mile runs in a row just a few days later. The first day, he came home looking strong and refreshed. The second day, he came home hobbling on a foot that had swollen considerably. He could barely walk.

The next day, it wasn't any better.

He’s fairly certain it’s a stress fracture.

And today, I watched as grim possibilities started to settle in. He doesn't have health insurance, which means a 'real' diagnosis could set him back several hundred dollars, and probably wouldn't achieve much. What he does know is he's in pain, all of the dozens of Web sites he’s surfed tell him he probably has a broken bone, and he has a 100-mile race to run. In two weeks.

Or not. That, to him, is the grimmest possibility of all. He's poured his heart into this race - arguably more than I have, even with my narcissistic blog and scores of saddle hours. He put a lot more money that he doesn't have into this race. He's stayed up late at night hand-sewing a harness for his sled. He's purchased giant jars of Perpetuem and Hammer Gel and actually made himself choke them down. He goes out running in the dark. He even inspired me to buy a pair of Montrail Susitnas (yes, I did recently purchase a pair of winter running shoes. I’m still trying to figure out why.)

Realizing that he might not be out there pounding that dark trail with me is more heartbreaking than I would have imagined. It makes me want to quit, too. Or lace up my Montrails and run it myself.

In just a few hours, that "other" two-day winter ultramarathon will begin - the Arrowhead 135. I’m rooting for a couple of bicycle bloggers I know, Doug from Minnesota and Dave from North Dakota. The weather report is still predicting lows around 25 below zero. Maybe as you’re going about your daily Monday routine, as I will be, you could send a few good foot vibes their way ... for Doug’s and Dave’s toes to stay warm and intact, and for Geoff’s injury to magically be not that bad.


  1. Jill,

    My experience is 10 kg is worth 2 gears going up hills, with your 15 pounds you are going to be maybe one gear lower than normal. This would also be slower as with a constant pedal rate a lower gear means lower speed.

    To go back to the original speed you need to pedal in a lower gear at a slightly faster pedal rate than you did in the higher gear without the weight.

    I had an injury to my foot similar to Geoff and was able to continue to ride my bike with special shoes with thicker soles which prevented the foot from bending.

    Perhaps if Geoff can not run in the race he may consider riding a bike with you. He will not damage his foot if he uses a thick soled shoe and he will still get the thrill of the race. He sounds very fit and I am sure he will do very well on a bike.

    All the best


  2. Ahh! Being hurt is no fun (understatement). I stress fractured my left tibia in HS xcountry, despite the coach's best advice to "just ice it and quite whining," and the only reason it was visible on an x-ray was that it had a cap of new bone growth in the several weeks between when it happened and when I saw a doc.

    Running is tricky like that, easy to get the fire when you start getting fit and burn it too far too fast. After doing that once I am VERY paranoid about repeating it.

    Hope all turns out as well as can be.

  3. Sorry to hear about Geoff's foot. I really hope it turns out to not be as serious as it feels.

    All the best with your continued training.

    The picture above is beautiful and just became my wallpaper on my computer at work.

    I'll be sending warm good vibes to Doug and Dave for their marathon.

  4. Boy I feel bad about Geoffs foot, hope it turns out that he can run because I know he hopes that. and warm thoughts to the arrowhead riders. Hope they finish quick.

  5. Man that sucks about Geoff's foot. Hang in there.

  6. Get better G....

    Nothing sucks more then to get forced out of an event!

    Rest up, get some advil in your system and have a hot tody =)

  7. Geoff,

    I know how you feel. I screwed up my hip running one time and it took a while to heal but more depressingly, it knocked me out of a race I wanted to do. I hope you don't have to go through that and that some rest allows you to race. We're all here for you in the great big enduro sport world though.



Feedback is always appreciated!