Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: Roanoke, VA                                             
End:  Roanoke, VA
Today's Miles:                       -0-
Cumulative Miles:             648.9
"You know what happened to the first marathoner, don't you?"
- encouraging (!) words today from my orthopedist, Dr. James Chandler

Sign at a VA road crossing.   6-6-05

He was referring to the story of Phidippides, the ancient Greek messenger who reportedly ran 26.2 miles to warn his countrymen of certain invasion by the Persians in the 5th century BC . . .

. . . and keeled over dead at the end of his "marathon!"

(For a summary of the Battle of Marathon and the origin of marathon running, see this link I found during a Google search: )

I like my orthopedist in Roanoke. He has a dry wit similar to that of the orthopedist I used when I lived in Billings, Montana, Dr. Michael Yorgason.

Both have patched me up after I've ruptured tendons in my left ankle and right Morton's toe. Neither physician exactly condones my trail ultra running addiction, but both understand my need to continue my habit and have done a fine job surgically repairing my over-use injuries.

I went in to see Dr. Chandler today to see what is wrong with my lower right leg. I didn't think it was related to the foot surgery I had in October, but I couldn't be sure. Was it shin splints? An over-worked tendon? Sprained ankle? Stress fracture? My whole foot and ankle were swollen today for the first time, and I wasn't sure if it was from the massage or whether the problem had suddenly escalated.

I knew he'd know.

Oh, and I had some concerns about my right arm because it still hurt where I fell so hard on it Tuesday. (Not broken, per the manual exam.)

Dr. Chandler ordered X-rays of my leg as a base-line reference for a stress fracture, but he doesn't think that's the problem (whew!) because of the location of the pain. After examining my foot and leg he determined the epicenter of the pain is at a nerve ending and (if I understood him correctly) is probably  inflammation or herniation of the soft tissue in the area.

The treatment: R.I.C.E. treatment and pain meds (Naproxen or Ibuprofen).

The cause: overuse, obviously!


Dr. Chandler's other comment, spoken just before the "first marathoner" line - and also said with a smile - was something to the effect of, "You know, the human body isn't built for this kind of distance" (running the Appalachian Trail).

I want so badly to prove him wrong!

Both Dr. Chandler and Dr. Yorgason are aware of this journal, but I don't know if either one is reading it. I'll be sure to let both of them know when I'm done, so they can see what the effects of 2,175 rocky, mountainous miles are on a 56-year-old body.

I hope I finish up without any serious damage so they will be pleasantly surprised. If not, Dr. Chandler or one of his associates might have a knee-replacement candidate on his/their hands. It's a win-win for him!

On a grave note (pun intended), I was a bit dismayed at the orthopedic office when I was taken to the X-ray department and seated three feet away from a woman on a gurney. The lower part of her face was covered and she appeared to be asleep. I stole a couple glances her way and observed that she wasn't breathing. Then the attendant behind me was talking to someone about calling the Coroner's office. Uh, oh.

Maybe she just finished an ultra marathon . . . I didn't ask!

(And somehow I thought it too nosy to ask anyone why there was a dead person in an orthopedic office, but later I wished I had.)


I spent the rest of the day pondering death, running errands, weeding the perennial beds (totally out of control!), icing my leg, doing housework, reading e-mail, writing, helping Jim decide what to do about his seriously ill sister and whether to go with him to visit her five states away.

We invoked Rule #3 big time today: the one about flexibility and adaptability, remember?

You see, Jim's youngest sister in Illinois had an operation earlier in the week and was not responding well. She had a high fever and bleeding from her bladder (not the site of the surgery). Although three of her other siblings live in the area and were attending to her needs, Jim wanted to be with her, too. After all, he's the oldest of the six "kids."

Jim was also concerned about me missing any more days of running this week. After debating the pros and cons of both of us going to Illinois, our mutual decision was for him to leave this afternoon on the 12-hour drive and for me to stay at home with the dogs and continue life here as normally as possible for the next few days (like what we've been doing is normal!). Jim suggested I ask our local ultra running buddies for assistance with transportation at the trailheads so I could keep going.

Jim drove away at 2 PM. I e-mailed my friends at 2:30 PM, and they responded almost instantly. Each had already asked if they could run with me when I was in this area, so my request to them was to also help me with transportation while Jim is out of town.

I am so grateful for their immediate support and coordination of who's running when and where with me the next three days. What great friends we have! I've already indicated in a PREP section that one of the reasons we moved to Roanoke last year was the enthusiastic response we got from these folks - and several others - about living and running here. Roanoke, heck VIRGINIA, ultra runners are great folks!

So I'll be back out on the Trail again tomorrow. I'm skipping the next 20+-mile section from VA 613, where I left off Tuesday, to VA 621 and I'll do it when Jim gets back. It's just too far to get to VA 613 to inconvenience my friends. There are three ~ 20-mile sections closer to Roanoke that we'll do the next three days, in random order.

This will be fun!

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil