18 Aug

The thin line

So I’ve been gone. Hence the lack of posts.

The first excursion was a three-day “Ride Across Wisconsin,” which my brother-in-law does every year with some friends of his. I joined them this year as we rode from Prairie du Chein to Sheboygan (more or less). I logged 314 miles in three days.

On the second day of riding, which also happened to be the easiest, my big toes went numb. They’ve kinda been numb since. I looked up the problem in a bunch of forums and other internet sites and figured out that it’s a fairly common issue — caused by bad socks, poorly fitting shoes, improper cleat position, or pedaling technique. It has something to do with the nerves in the metatarsals not getting the proper rest . . . I don’t know. I read enough about it to make sense of it, but I can’t really articulate it to anyone else.

I didn’t do much in the days following the bike trip. Just a few swimming workouts. Eileen and I went to Blackhawk Lake to camp. We took Eileen’s boat and she rowed each day we were there.

My toes were still numb afterwards. Yesterday I soaked them in hot water, which hurt. Today, I biked and ran. I experimented with my pedaling, and I wore my good bike socks. My toes didn’t seem to get any worse; in fact, they actually felt best when I was running on them, but my IT band started getting a little irritated on the run.

Afterward, Eileen and I were discussing my problems.

Tim: I’ve had this IT problem before and it’s not gonna go away before the Ironman. It’s an overuse injury.

Eileen: Maybe you should take vitamin N.

Tim: Vitamin N?

Eileen: NSAIDS, like Advil.

Tim: Is Advil an NSAID?

Eileen: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug?

Tim: Hmm. I guess so. You know, when it comes right down to it, the Ironman is pretty stupid. You know that thin line between tough and stupid? This crosses right into stupid. Now a rowing marathon, that’s tough.

Eileen: Well. . .

Tim: Ok, it’s a little stupid, too. It’s really a thin line.

Eileen: One might even say it’s more of an area.

Tim: It’s transparent. Actually, it’s like a gradient.

Eileen: You never really know when you cross it. You’re always in both.

Tim: Yeah, but on either end, there are pure areas. Pure toughness would be like if you did something tough involuntarily. Or selflessly. Like saving a baby from a whirlpool.

Eileen: Yeeeaaah (Looking doubtful) . . . And pure stupid?

Tim: That’s when you die trying to do something tough, like if you try a Jackass stunt and end up killing yourself as a result.

Eileen: So you do something you don’t really know anything about?

Tim: Yeah.

Eileen: Well, I’m glad we got that figured out.

Tim. Me too.

Message from Eileen: the above is an approximation of the conversation we had. Tim actually brought up taking advil during the race and I told him that might be hard on his stomach (and that he should probably just take it after the race since that’s when inflammation is the worst anyway). I don’t advocate painkillers. I hate taking them – and the vitamin N comment was me quoting some of the sports medicine people I’ve run into who dish out NSAIDs like they are vitamins.

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