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
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
The cause: overuse, obviously!
SHE MUST'VE RUN AN ULTRA
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
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
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!