Tar Heel 10 Miler Race and Injury Update

Hello all, I just want to bring you up to speed on whats been happening in my running world.  As you know from my previous post I was very displeased with my performance and the directors performance of the Cooper River Bridge Run.  But thankfully that is in the past and much has happened between then and now.

April was an extremely busy running month with two races, the CRBR and the Tar Heel 10 Miler in Chapel Hill, NC.  I put in a lot of fast mileage and enjoyed every bit of it.  I went into the Tar Heel 10 Miler with a bit of an achilles scare.  The week leading up to the race I ramped up the intensity of my running despite the advice of most in the running community.  About three days prior to the race I went on a run and had to quit around mile two due to some achilles pain.  Knowing how scary any achilles ache can be, I RICE’d it for the rest of the week.

The morning of the race I arrived at Kenan Stadium early to warm up and to make sure my right foot was feeling ok. I decided to wear my Brooks Pure Cadence because they control my foot compared to my more neutral and favorite, T7 racers.  Because of the higher mileage, the Cadence’s also allow me to make a smoother transition to a light heel strike if need be.   Everything felt groovy so I made my way down to the track surrounding the football field where Tar Heel great and former Carolina Panther DE Julius Peppers use to run through 300 lb. offensive linemen like an 18 wheeler would a Smart car.  The majestic beauty of Chapel Hill alone was well worth the $40 entry fee.  I began the 10 miler with a hopeful 6min/mile pace that would only last the first two miles.  Unlike the perfectly flat, sea-level Charleston that I’m use to, Chapel Hill has an abundance of hills!  I floated along to mile 3 where I began to feel minor pain in my achilles so I slowed my pace to 7min/mile and transitioned to a light heel strike to give my achilles and my calfs a rest.

I started chatting with a fellow runner while running down historic Franklin Street to keep my spirits up.  He told me that this was his first race after coming back from tearing his achilles.  What are the chances, I thought to myself, and told him of my situation.  We were running just over a 7 min pace when we got to mile six, holding back a bit due to the inevitable Laurel Hill that awaits all runners at the end of the race.  Its a conveniently placed mile long hill located around mile 8.5 – 9.5.  I was feeling comfortable and confident that I wanted to finish with a pace below 7min/mile so I sped ahead of my new found friend and attacked the small hills leading up to Laurel Hill.

At the base of Laurel hill, the four mile race had merged with our 10 mile race.  I kept thinking to myself, I should have done the 4 miler.  I’m passing most of these people and I just ran 6 more miles than they did! They better not get the same 10 mile medal thats waiting for me at the finish line (which they did)!  I hit Laurel Hill like a brick wall.  Afraid to look at my watch for my pace, I kept my head low and tried to pass as many feet as possible.  When I finally reaches the top, my legs felt like jello.  You know, the kind of jello that hadn’t even set yet.  I looked at my watch and there was only a half a mile to go so I mustered up what I had left, stormed through Kenan Stadium tunnel, sized up my competition, and sprinted around the track picking off a few runners that had thought they picked me off!  That is one of the benefits of ending a race on a track.  It gives you the opportunity to have that race within a race!  I finished 93rd according to the Gun time with a chip time of 1:08:48 accomplishing my goal of finishing below 7 min/mile pace.

After the race, I returned to a more “mileage focussed” running routine.  I was confident in my speed and now wanted to increase my weekly mileage.  I began to run 6-8 miles daily at a comfortable 8 min pace without nearly breaking a sweat!  All was well until I decided to play some hungover beach football with several high school friends at a bachelor party beach weekend.  Injuries always seem to happen when you least expect them.  I was running for a pass when I hit some loose sand and heard a pop!  That was the sound of my Peroneal Tendon on the outside my right ankle tearing the sheath that surrounds it.  It hurt like hell.  I was done with football for the day, jumped in my rental, and drove back to Charleston where I began to ice and rest.

Subluxation of the Peroneal Tendon is what my girlfriend’s-sister’s-Physical Therapist-friend diagnosed me with over the phone.  Give credit where credit is due right?  I also went to a local orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brown to verify this, and it was that exactly.  He recommended no running and to begin Physical Therapy immediately.  For those of you that have no clue what Subluxation of the blah blah blah is, please refer to the chart and paragraph below.

Ok, You see those two tendons marked with green and blue lines?  Subluxation occurs when those tendons get separated and roll from behind the fibula bone, over the bone, and to the front of the fibula bone where they are clearly not supposed to be.  This has been happening to me since the beginning of the year and I have been able to pop the blue one out since I was a kid.  It occasionally happens during a run and feels really awkward. Having no idea what it was at the time I would simply stop running and push the tendons back behind my fibula bone and continue running.  This time it was different, and very painful! So painful that I want to make sure this thing is completely healed and re-attaches itself behind the fibula bone for good before I start running again.

Because of two pesky tendons in my right foot, I’ve been unable to run for two weeks now…. Although the ankle is feeling a lot better, I’m still not 100% confident that it is completely healed. I’ll give it a few more days, but I don’t know if I can even wait that long!  I know that a patient mind perseveres in a situation like this, but every morning when I wake up my body feels like a caged coyote ready to chase down and inhale a jack rabbit for breakfast!  Biking, Core workouts, and plyometrics give me strength and help to maintain my condition, but they don’t come close to the freedom I get from running and racing.

Screw it, I’m going for a run. Half a mile here I come. Call it foolish, but it’s the only true way to find out the condition my ankle is really in. If we lived the way evolution intended us to, I would have no choice right? Run or die, and this Coyote has been hungry for weeks….Until next time friends!


P.S. : Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to bring my lucky rabbit’s foot along for the ride 😉

Michael’s beer of the week:  Gluten free Estrella Damm Daura, Coyotes can’t have gluten….


2 responses to “Tar Heel 10 Miler Race and Injury Update

  • cyndy rudd

    Your dedication to running and pressing thru pain is an inspiration. When it comes to being our personal best,we have to ask ourselves to constantly press through pain…..a metaphor for life too…. Thanks Mike!

  • Matthew Harwood, PT, OCS

    Thanks for the report. I am physical therapist in Chapel Hill and will be running this year’s 2014 race.
    Regardless, your 1:08 finish is impressive, great job!

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