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.