Thursday, December 23, 2010

22 Days

Today is December 23, 2010. On December 11 I ran the Kiawah half marathon - my third race of that distance - and have run exactly 10 miles since then. In 22 days I will be running the Charleston Marathon.

I can't say I am unhappy or exactly frustrated although I have had intense moments of both; I have been given circumstances that depend on me to resolve, no one else. I still have a spot of bleeding from that last race, which I no doubt aggravated by trying to run again before it had fully healed. It had stopped bleeding which was a good sign, but not good enough. Three short runs later the band-aid was wet with blood and I pulled over to the sideline to wait it out.

It was my intent to do a short run today, but with a spot of blood still apparent I have learned my lesson and will not go. Being off work next week, I hope to be able to squeeze in at least one more 16 miler to instill some tiny kernel of confidence that I can finish the marathon without being reduced to walking/limping to the finish line or perhaps saddled with the most cruel DNF. Again, it is my life, my leg, my choice to take care of what is best for me. There will be many more races with extremes of magnificent and horrid; both test the soul of the runner.

The one thing I have less control over is my prosthesis. It is a complicated device that lets me run without an anatomical foot, that interfaces with a limb in a socket that forces it to change shape. Think of a tube of toothpaste that you gently squeeze that forces the dental cleaner up and out; this is what is happening to the fluid in my leg and why prosthetic socks are added during the day to make up for this volume loss.

There is a relatively new development in the prosthetic world called the elevated vacuum pump. Basically it is an electrical or mechanical pump that maintains pressure inside the socket; the negative pressure pulls the skin toward the socket instead of squeezing it. In a properly built prosthesis this allows for a more natural environment for the residual limb. This sounds wonderful and something my prosthetist tried without success for several reasons, but I intend to try it again as I think it will eliminate most of my problems. It must be built correctly, which requires time, patience and experience. Given the Ironman I know who have used it with great success, there is little reason to discount it for a marathoner, half marathoner, or any active amputee.


So here I sit, looking over the winter landscape of northern Illinois, hoping to get a few short runs done before we leave, perhaps in the snow-globe world of a drifting flakes. In 22 days I will be running my first amputee marathon on training that I would consider minimal at best. This race has all the markings of a personal worse...had it not been the fact that I am fortunate to be able to run it at all. As I keep this in mind, and for the cause I decided to run it for, nothing matters now except to finish.

It will be enough.

For now.


  1. Hang in there, my friend. You can do it, and you will be stronger, as always, for the experience. Keep on motivating all of us to try harder and achieve our goals. We are all with you.

  2. Thanks my friend, I am hoping now to be healed enough to run a couple on Christmas Day, not quite ready to go yet. That would be a nice present for Santa to leave for me.

    As always, I appreciate the support. Something is getting me through this frustrating time without going crazy!

    - Richard