Friday, April 9, 2010

Sharpening the Blade

The good news is I will be getting my definitive running foot in my weight category within a week or two, and I will also get a new carbon fiber socket with some major changes to make it more comfortable for distance running. I go this Monday to have the socket cast.

We finally tried the Otto Bock Sprinter foot that was sent to us by mistake instead of the C-Sprint model. This foot was mounted on the back of a carbon fiber test socket and I must say looked damned cool!

The problem with using a sprint foot in lieu of a distance foot is I also needed a lighter category foot as sprint feet are stiffer than the distance feet. I just found this out a couple of weeks ago, so even if Otto Bock had sent the C-Sprint foot it may not have worked out, although I think it could have been more easily adjusted per the literature.

I can say this Sprinter foot was easier to run in than the Nitro Cat6 foot I tried. It compressed easier and offered better energy return, but that was to be expected even as a sprint foot. However, I found myself catching the leading tip on the pavement at times, nearly falling in the process. Jennifer ran with me once and her mom-school-bus-stop-arm was swinging out to catch me at regular intervals. This is not to pass judgment on the Sprinter; we are asking it to do something for which it was not designed. It is a sprint foot, not a distance foot like the Ossur Flex-Run or Freedom Innovations Nitro.

The socket with this foot also caused the skin to break around my kneecap, so this was not pleasant either. I had been having problems with my plastic socket irritating the inside of my knee so now this would stop my running for three days so the skin could heal. This lead to some frustration on my part, so I gleefully took my 30-something year old Dremel Moto-Tool to the plastic and shaved it down. Ah...

I am now getting excited that Jato will arrive soon and my last limitation to returning to running will be a barrier crossed. Mentally I am preparing myself to do what it takes to get use to running on the blade. I find the running feet I have tried feel more natural, and when I put on my walking foot it feels stiff and awkward in comparison. Probably over time I will get a different foot with better rollover for walking/hiking, but the LP Renegade has served me well as a first foot that has allowed me to run better than I expected. I imagine the full height Renegade would have even been better since I could have had better energy return with it.

After some fits and starts mixed with anticipation and disappointment, I am getting excited again about the prospects of meeting Jato. I have learned much, mainly what does not work - which still is a valuable lesson. It is not possible to "try before you buy" a running prosthesis in many cases, so having a CP who will work with you is important. I do thank Scott Rigsby for sending me the Nitro foot which proved I could wear that type configuration, and it is the Nitro that is being custom built for my weight.

It is possible I will not see as big a difference as others coming from an everyday prosthesis to a running blade as I have been able to train at a reasonable novice level with the Renegade. I am looking forward to the lighter weight and more natural running foot strike of the Nitro and hope to run my next race on April 22 in it. Unless I am having to concentrate too much on learning how to run with the new getup, I should be able to lower my 5k PR again.

I have signed up for my first marathon to be run as an amputee, which can be found here. There was some talk about a marathon coming to the city of Charleston last year, and I was mildly despondent that I would not be able to participate yet. This event was to be one of the money-making Rock-n-Roll affairs, which all seem to be well organized and good races. I am pleased that a local man, Charles Fox, is going to be able to have this event as the inaugural half marathon/5k/kid's races were well organized and fun last year.

For many years I had wished a marathon would be run from Summerville down Hwy 61 to Charleston, a point-to-point course not unlike the Boston Marathon, in fact I nicknamed my course "Boston South." This is not to be as the race will likely start near the maritime center in downtown Charleston and run up to the old Naval Base in North Charleston.

It will still be a great course with as much scenery as a marathoner can consume AND with shrimp and grits at the finish, who dares to DNF?

See you on the starting line on January 15, 2011!

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