Wednesday, January 3, 2018

An Overdue Conclusion to this "Blogging" Experiment

Lori hanging out by the creek, with Sophie on the chair and Bertie taking a break from aqua jogging
So, I realize that most anyone who's read this blog has an idea of how things have gone over the past nine years and that's also quite a lot of time to try to cover in a post.  At the same time, this thing still seems to pop up pretty frequently from what I hear when people are looking to track me down, so I figure I ought to make it a little easier to find me.  After nearly eight years with Teton County, Idaho as the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, last January 2017 Kathy Spitzer and I teamed up and opened Spitzer Law, PLLC in Victor, Idaho.  Professionally, it has been just a wonderful experience and I couldn't be happier as we head into our second year of defending the rights of people across Idaho and Wyoming, including Yellowstone and Teton National Parks.  In addition to criminal defense, we also take on family law cases, business representation, land use, contracts, etc.  I seem to have nothing but the most amazing clients, so it is incredibly rewarding to get to work on their behalf with whatever they need. 

Aside from the fabulous work situation, Lori and I have moved to a really fun log cabin just outside of Victor.  Trail Creek runs through our land (Brook trout make great fish tacos) and I've put in a 300 meter irregular oval track in our field that provides stunning views, great workouts and a nice place to walk the dogs. 
On the track, looking towards Taylor Mountain
As far as my feet and hands go, I've been able to reach a point of acceptance where the damage that was done is clearly permanent but it also doesn't hold me back from much at all.  My fingertips are still less sensitive than they were before, but they don't hurt and I have enough feeling that they don't impede my day-to-day living.  My left foot gets cold pretty easily, especially my big toe, but the pain in that foot is pretty limited and it seems to flex and function just about as normally as ever.  My toenails in general still grow incredibly slowly compared to my fingers, it's really quite amazing how depressed the growth rate seems to be, but one less thing to worry about I guess! 

My right foot remains quite painful and definitely does not bend or flex the way that it used to on account of all of the scar tissue built up on the top of my foot and around my big toe in particular.  It's also not super pretty to look at.  But running seems to be about the best thing for continuing to push blood through and continuing to encourage healing, even nine years later.  At first, runs were really painful and I couldn't do more than a couple per week.  What I noticed back in 2009 and 2010 though was that a few days after long runs, the pain seemed to get better and the blood flow improved as well.  Since then, I've been able to slowly work my way back to regular training loads and had some amazing experiences on the roads and trails. 

Just a few of the highlights since 2009 include a new marathon PR of 2:30:46 at the Twin Cities Marathon in 2014, a bunch of ultra wins and decent finishes, and some 100 milers including my first Hardrock 100 back in 2016. 

Island Lake, below Grant-Swamp Pass while previewing the course in 2016

I have yet to race well or really figure out the 100 mile distance, but I get another shot at Hardrock coming up here in 2018 which I couldn't be more excited about.  Hopefully I can take some of the lessons I've learned and improve on my last finish. 

Slogging up to Kroger's Canteen between Telluride and Ouray.  Photo Credit Jared Campbell

I've also had the pleasure of finally pulling off a "Full" Teton Crest run twice now -- in 2016 from South Boone Creek to Teton Pass, and in 2017 from Teton Pass to Flagg Ranch.  Those treks were the first times I'd been back to the Nord Pass region of the Tetons and it hasn't gotten any less rugged in those parts.  Those adventures and others with Dave Atlas have been pretty amazing. 
Hanging out at Mr. Bubbles between Old Faithful and the Bechler.  Photo Credit Dave Atlas
All in all, I can't thank everyone enough for all of your thoughts and support that helped me get through this experience and come out ahead.  Looking back, even with the pain, the expense and the permanent damage, I don't know that I'd change a thing from that trip with Derek.  The people I've met, the experiences I've had and the opportunity to connect with so many old friends that all seem to have come about from this one, shitty consequence of an otherwise fantastic ski trip sure don't make me regret any of it at this point.  Every time I reflect back on this incident my mind is drawn to the inscription that Buddy Edelen included when signing my dad's copy of his memoir, "A Cold, Clear Day" which is, "Without the experiences, there would be no memories."  -- Buddy Edelen.  I would never give up the memories of the cards, phone calls and visits in the immediate aftermath, or the wealth of opportunities like racing Ghost Town or stepping into the "part-time" (what a crock . . .) deputy prosecutor role that never would have happened if that adventure had gone off without a hitch.  Experiencing a bit of pain in exchange for memories like that is a deal I'd make every day of the week. 

There's also no way to properly thank everyone who has helped me along the way to get me where I am today.  Lori, hands down, has been and continues to be my rock every single day and the key to every success I've had since 2008, thank you. Allen, for setting up this damn blog in the first place and now going off and building an incredible family, I can't thank you enough either.  My parents for accepting, coming to terms with, or at least keeping quiet about the fact that they're now reaping the results of raising an independent, stubborn kid who loves to run, loves the mountains and was taught to follow his dreams, thanks.  Kathy, for taking advantage of my misfortune and giving me the opportunity to practice law (only to find out that I actually like it!) and becoming such an incredible friend and training partner as well, I can never repay you.  I could go on forever here, but I think it's time to put this post out of its misery and call it a wrap as far as this blog is concerned.  I'm really not a social media kinda guy (if you haven't noticed already) so you'll probably need to reach out to me in some old fashioned way in the future, but if you've read this far into the post I sure do hope you shoot me an email or give me a call.  One last photo that I think captures this whole situation quite nicely . . .
Greeting the man, the myth, the legend, Ty Draney, at Kroger's Canteen, 2016.  Photo Credit Jared Campbell

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back in shoes!!!

Since my last checkup I’ve been back in my own shoes and making a lot of progress towards normal life. The skin on my feet is now completely closed up leaving me without bandages. Instead I’ve got a tight sock with holes on both ends that I get to wear underneath my regular socks. The idea behind it is to protect the new skin a little bit and help keep scar tissue from getting too out of control on the top of my foot. It’s not the fancy colored compression socks I was initially promised, but I have another appointment next month where I’m hoping that I can hook that custom job up.

More importantly, I’m running again. Slowly, sometimes painfully. But running it is. I started with some light jogging on the grass over at the fairgrounds which was really hard. Then, did more of that but added in some strides with Lori and Kris. Another day I tried to go for a bike ride on the trails rather than run with Lori, Kris, and Eric. But it was super muddy so I ended up walking, pushing my bike, and for the last few miles carrying it which left me with 3 hours of pretty hard work. I should’ve just run. Anyway, I quickly graduated to High School Butte over in Jackson. Then there was an hour run on the roads in Driggs with Jay followed by two laps up High School Butte the next morning. Friday morning, Lori and I climbed up Snow King. All of this is to say that life gets better every day.

I’m glad to be feeling more comfortable on my feet these days as I’m adding a new job to my life and cutting back my hours a bit at VARD. In a couple weeks I’ll officially be the new deputy county attorney for Teton County, ID. Which means that I’ll be doing all of the criminal prosecution on behalf of the county. All of my efforts to avoid lawyering have now officially gone down the tubes. I am pretty excited about the change of pace for a few days each week though.

I don’t have any sense yet of when I’ll be back to racing, but I’m getting pretty excited to be able to do some consistent running here. We just got back from a weekend in Pocatello previewing the course for a 50-miler on May 23rd. I got in a solid run in the mud and rain on Saturday then went for a hike on Sunday. We stayed with our friends Pat and Dan Spurlock – a couple of the nicest and most amazing people on earth. It was just a great weekend of enjoying some dirt trails and rain (as opposed to the snow this morning in the Tetons . . .) and spending time with good people. I’ll likely be taking a couple days off here as we just started doing a cleanse last night which involves limited calories and therefore limited energy to be used for running.

Most importantly, Matt Hooley won the Eugene Marathon in 2:18:38 on Sunday!!! That makes for an trials qualifier and a helluvah time to boot, way to go Hools!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Skin Tickles

The recovery process is continuing along pretty well. The left foot and hand are in great shape, with just a few more toenails to lose. I'm even getting feeling back in my left toes, which means that they're ridiculously ticklish again.

The heel of my right foot was closed up entirely for a couple days. We started using 1/2 as much gauze to wrap the foot so it isn't quite as large anymore. I got a little greedy on Saturday and tried to squeeze my foot into a few different pairs of shoes. I was able to get it in, but they were a little tight and that process reopened my heel a little bit. In the meantime, my friend Kris is letting me walk around in a pair of his shoes that are 2 sizes bigger than mine. So I've got a little more time to wait before the heel closes back up again, but I've got shoes I can wear for rainy/snowy days like today which is fabulous.

On the top of my right foot, things are almost entirely closed up, including the tops of the toes. There's some pretty interesting discoloration that is appearing where the deepest freezing occurred. The last time I was in Salt Lake they kept talking about the fact that I should expect some scarring. I never asked them what exactly that might look like and am starting to wonder if that's what we're seeing.

The big yellowish/deep open spot near my big toe is closing up and shrinking really quickly. It still has a little ways to go, but I'm pretty happy with how quickly that's moving. In between my toes there's also some spots that haven't closed up entirely. Because they're so squished together it is just taking longer for that to happen. On the bottom of my foot, the thick old callouses are peeling off leaving more incredibly ticklish new skin underneath. Not to complain, but the level of tickle-sensitivity on the bottom of my foot with the new skin and regenerating nerves is dangerously high. It makes it really difficult to work with. With pain you can just set your mind against it and deal with it. Tickling, well, that's just uncontrollable.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Foot Pic Slideshow!

Click here to view the slideshow!

So, hopefully this works. Google says it will, and she seems to know everything. I'm a little non-adept at all of this so it's putting all of the pictures that I've posted up here on the slideshow. So, you've seen the first bunch, but it's the last half that has the foot pics. I put captions on them which I hope will show up. The order might be a little screwy, but I've got other things to do today so let's all just cross our fingers and hope the thing works and it turns out well.

Update: So the link ought to bring you to an album of pictures. Just double click on the first one you want to look and and then you can either do a slideshow or just scroll through at your own pace. The images will be bigger and you'll be able to read the captions once you double click, just so you know. [I've learned a lot today . . . ]

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back in the office!

I took the next step with all of this walking and driving stuff and headed back into the office this week. It's awful nice to be back. It is a little tough to spend a full day at work with my foot hanging down in addition to commuting the 45 minutes each way over Teton pass. (Actually, yesterday the drive was a bit slower as we were in the process of getting 30 inches of powder up in the mountains). So I'm trying to split time between doing the telecommute thing and actually heading into Driggs. Oh, and to the left is a shot of my boss Sandy in the process of cleaning the office a while back.

My feet continue to improve every day. My left foot and toes are probably more flexible than they've ever been, except for the biggest and littlest toes. Those two, which spent time pressed against the frozen sides of my ski boots, were hit the hardest on that foot and they're moving a lot slower in the return to flexibility. They do flex pretty well in relation to the foot, and I'm getting more movement in the joints halfway down the toe but it's pretty slow.

My right foot is also improving, though it's been a bit swollen the last couple days from the long work days. Yesterday was a little better though as I did a better job of propping my foot on the desk and lowering my chair. I also spent a little time on the floor with my feet on a chair as I read some tips on grantwriting. All of the toes are flexing pretty well where they join the foot, though the foot itself is still really rigid. The other joints in those toes remain pretty stiff. Part of the issue though is that it's still bandaged all day, so it's hard to tell exactly where things are at with respect to true flexibility. I should probably do a better job of testing those things during wound care when I can actually see them.

Most of the skin has peeled off my left hand and the nails are starting to loosen up, especially the thumb. My hand should act as a good primer for dealing with my feet. The skin that appears once all the layers of old, damaged skin slough off is this super-thin, clear, ultra-sensitive stuff that looks pink because it sits right above the bloodvessels and everything. The bad news is that it's so sensitive that gripping anything of consequence hurts too much and in that respect it leaves me one-handed in many cases. The good news is that it's healing up pretty quick and I can already see the growth of a new layer of skin that is starting to form on top of this one. I can only hope things progress as quickly on my feet.

All in all, things continue to improve and I feel like I'm moving back into normal life a little more each week. Tomorrow I pick up Denver, the animal that I was dogsitting prior to my little unplanned hiatus from the real world. All of my neighbors and coworkers have been incredibly helpful coordinating care for Denver and his house. Lately one of the neighbors' babysitters has been staying at the house and taking care of the enormous and active black lab. But, she's leaving town and I'm taking the big fellah back. He and Sophie get along pretty well so that will be nice. Hopefully this snow will melt soon so that he doesn't constantly lose tennis balls.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Keepin' up this healing stuff . . .

So things continue to move in a positive direction. For one thing, I'm running low on bad facial hair pictures, so I thought I'd throw in one from a ski up in Grand Teton National Park that Lori and I did earlier this season. It sure was tough being the only folks who'd skied up to this point. Well, it was us and the set of wolf tracks on the trail. Pretty cool stuff.
Back to the healing. I've gotten in some pretty good walks lately, which has been nice as the weather was simply perfect. Nearly 60 degrees and sunny. Winter is making a feeble return this week with some clouds and a little snow, but nothing too crazy. So, I kept my "workout" inside and rode the bike for 30 mins. It just feels so good to get some exercise in!
On Sunday Lori and I drove over to Driggs -- the first time I've been back in Idaho since the morning of the trip across the range. It sure was nice! We swung by Derek's place, which is an amazing house that includes a 28-foot tree that the house was built around. It was great, as always to catch up for a while and check out the sweet ironwork that he and Liz have been creating with his new forge in the basement. After that we went to pick up a few things from Denver's house and, *gasp* I picked up my car! That's right, I'm back behind the wheel. Tomorrow, I'll get to actually head into the office rather than working from the couch. Pretty sweet in my book. I'll definitely miss hanging out with Sophie all day, but one of the drawbacks to this whole frostbite thing is that I actually miss going to work. I think that's a good thing.
Not too much else is going on with the healing, it's just a long process. There has been a ton of progress though. The last deep yellow spot has shed that layer so it's just a matter of time until all the skin closes up and the callousing process can proceed with extreme caution. The flexibility in my toes and feet seems to get a little better most days, the skin on my fingers gets a little tougher every day, and I just can't ask for more than that. As things get better here I'll start thinking about posting some pictures, maybe a time series or something. It turns out Allen decided it was a good idea to show the pictures to my mom, so I suppose if she can handle seeing her kid's feet look like that, everyone else can too.
Finally, there's a couple small things I've neglected to mention that have come up in the last week. The first is for all the locals here in Jackson, Teton Valley, and such. You all probably know that Laurie Andrews, local ultrarunner and all-around good person had surgery this week to repair three ruptures in her achilles tendon. Reports are that she's doing pretty well, but the recovery from that injury is even longer than I'd first imagined. I don't have to think back too far to remember just how important every email, call, letter, visit, and every other form of contact from friends, strangers, and family were/are to me. I'm sure Laurie would have the same appreciation of your emails, notes, etc as I did. We all need a little encouragement to help keep us in a happy place as we embark on long recovery and rehab projects.
The other thing is a little lighter, but I can't help giving Dan Bucy and Alanna McCleod a shout out for winning a wedding on a radio show in Fort Collins, CO. Seriously, only those two are so perfectly matched that they can get all of Fort Collins to vote for them to win their wedding. For all the fellahs and Carleton alums that are reading this, some serious congratulations are in order for these two. The news has kept me smiling all day! Way to go you two!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Party Is On!

So, Wednesday afternoon it was 50 degrees here in Jackson. When Lori got home from work she pulled out a couple lawn chairs and a little bench for my foot and we sat outside and enjoyed the last little bit of sunlight before it faded off over the mountains. Feeling inspired on the way in, I tried walking without crutches. Granted, I'd already experimented with using a single crutch and putting a little weight on my right foot. Anywho, it went well. I even hopped on the bike on a trainer in the basement for about five minutes, it was awesome! Yesterday I pretty much walked the entire day, except in the morning. Everything hurts more then. Including my foot.
That's right, so now I'm a little more mobile, though my walk is actually a mixture of shuffling and shambling. It's a good start though, in my opinion. I've also got some ridiculously painful stretches to do with my toes to get 'em flexible and doing what toes ought to do. My right foot remains pretty rigid. I'd say it has as much flex as a sheet of 3/4" plywood. So, it's getting there, just slowly. Today I'm taking more care to put the bulk of my weight on the heel, since I think I may have overdone the pressure on the ball of my foot yesterday. I don't think that caused any damage, it just makes it hurt like hell which has an impact on one's ability to sleep.
It seems kind of funny to think that last year at this time I was in San Diego scamming hotel space and food off of the Carleton track team on spring break in exchange for having some training partners in a fantastic climate. I think I got a pretty good deal there. A whole lot has happened since then. I remember really struggling in the workouts there but still feeling excited and thinking I was on the right track for Boston. Now I'm sitting in a chair and getting excited about being able to shuffle around a little bit without aid, thinking I'm on the right track to get in some trail running this summer. I sure hope that turns out better than Boston. In any case, it sure is a change in perspective. One I've experienced before, but not to this degree. It sure does make me want to look into doing some track races next spring though. In any case, for the moment it's just one shuffle/shamble at a time.