Three weeks post surgery and I’m really beginning to feel better. Still a touch sore on the inside of my right knee where they went in to repair my meniscus and remove some small amounts of arthritis. Basically I pretty much haven’t done a stitch of exercise since Christmas Day when all this went down and it shows. Man are my calves sore!
My body wants to consume food as if I was still running 30 miles a week and the scale well that thing and I haven’t been friends for a while now. None the less yesterday was a beautiful day with bright sunshine, a light breeze and some cool spring temperatures. Going stir crazy I decided to head over to the Vestal Rail Trail and do some walking.
I wound up walking 4 miles with minimal discomfort and a tiny bit of soreness. This is huge in the process of healing! On April 11th I return to see my doctor for a checkup and his thoughts of when I can start slowly testing the waters of running again. My fingers are crossed that come end of April I can return. It will take me a while to get back into shape but I’m all about baby steps and doing this process right.
On Christmas morning my running world came to a screeching halt. I went out early with my friend Ken to do a 5 miler while our families were still asleep. The pain in my right knee was so bad by the time I got home I could barely walk. I couldn’t climb the stairs in our house for several hours until some of the pain subsided. On New Year’s Eve I finally got into see the doctor and he was concerned about my pain and its location so he ordered an MRI. My MRI lit up like a Christmas tree showing I had what the doctor called a severe bone bruise (Almost a fracture) and a torn meniscus. He was perplexed more about the severity of the bruise than my meniscus. As I sat in his office with my wife you could see I wanted to cry. It was immediately clear to me that I would not be able to run the Parade Day Mile with my son nor with my team in this years Seneca 7 race, I was devastated!
I could not imagine where the bruise had come from as I had not fallen or anything recently. Flipping through the pages in my mind I did recall falling back in early October and banging my knee pretty hard. It hurt for a few days and then went away. I continued my running routine and sometime in late November I would get twinges in my knee while running, kind of like it wanted to give out. In typical fashion of me being me and my high tolerance for pain I kept running on it thinking it would just go away. I was wrong and it gradually got worse, with some days better than others.
I have not run or done anything too strenuous since the holidays. The doctor wanted to wait at least 4-6 weeks to see if my bone healed before doing meniscus surgery otherwise I would need two surgeries. The good news is my bone has healed and I will be having surgery on March 1st. Recovery in theory will be another 4-6 weeks before I can think about running again.
As I mentioned earlier I won’t be able to run with my team this year at the annual Seneca 7 relay race. However I will be there that weekend in April with my friends cheering and celebrating.
Over the past 24 years I’ve been traveling the Southern Tier of New York west from Binghamton towards western Ohio where my wife is from to visit family. Just beyond Jamestown, NY the interstate spans the beautiful Chautauqua lake. My wife and I have always commented to one another that we should stop sometime and check out the area, but in reality we never have.
On September 9th 2018 I had the opportunity to join my friends and take part in the 4 for 44 relay race that encircles Chautauqua lake. This race which began and ended at Southern Tier Brewing in Lakewood, NY was a 44 mile relay race. Each team consisted of 4 runners who would each run 3 legs of varying distances.
The festivities began the afternoon before as we all would meet up at Four Mile Brewing in Olean, NY. I don’t think I have ever seen that many traffic circles in my life. Anyway I personally enjoyed the place and their beer was pretty solid. They also had some great munchies as well and puzzles….
After spending some time at Four Mile Brewing we made a beeline for Jamestown to check into our hotel rooms and head over to Southern Tier Brewing for packet pickup and you guessed it more beer. I began to have flashbacks from a few years ago when I raced with my friend Diana. The night before the race she forced me to drink way to many beers.. Hmm I’m beginning to see a pattern here!
Race morning came and I was feeling pretty good, as we would start the race in the first wave at 0700. Bob was our first runner followed by Jo (Without an E), she gets very testy about that, next would be Diana and lastly myself our fourth runner. The course was really nice and not flat either by any means. I particularly liked the Beamis Point area. My first leg of the race was 4 miles, the second 5.20 miles and the last was 3.25 miles. All three of my runs were listed on the course guide as moderate. However according to the course guide my last leg had 300 feet of gain and I think all 300 feet of that was in the first half mile, my legs were zapped!
We all had a wonderful time and I truly enjoyed running with Bob, Jo & Diana and would do it again in a heartbeat.
As a side note Jamestown, NY is home to the Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz Museum.
For the past several years now I have been wondering when we would get stuck with some tough weather conditions for the annual Seneca 7 relay event. I’m here to tell you that Mother Nature did not dissapoint. Teams were subjected to hours of snow, rain, cold and wind for their 77.7 journey around Seneca lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region.
Looking back over the past five years since I have been running in the Seneca 7, I think this year had to be the most epic. We knew we would have it tough as the super fast and talented women of Red Newt Racing would put us through our paces. This all day battle where we traded the lead back and forth was nothing short of awesome. Red Newt Racing would beat us by 64 seconds according to official results. They ran around the lake in 7:54:28 for a pace of 6:06 and our team “Liar Liar feet on Fire” completed it in 7:55:42 for a pace 6:07. Can you say nail biter!
I’ve always been able to mask pain very well and for the past eight months that is exactly what I have been doing. Late last year I had a growing discomfort in my groin, hips and lower back but I was able to keep running. After the new year I backed off a little bit and the pain leveled out. Come early March I ramped things up for the upcoming show down of the Seneca 7. My pain also ramped itself up as well. I told myself repeatedly that I will get checked out after the race because there was no way I was not going to run.
Early in April while out training it hit me like a ton of bricks. After a workout one afternoon I came home sat down drank some water. When I got up I could barely walk! It took three days for me to feel normal again and I continued the cycle until race day.
After my race I completely dropped off running, I was burnt and let my diet go to the dogs so to speak. I thought a few weeks off would solve my problem and I wouldn’t have to go to the doctor. Lacing up my running shoes and hitting the pavement I quickly found I was wrong. I could barely run 2-3 miles without stopping several times, I was struggling to breathe and the next day I would have a difficult time getting out of bed.
Scouring the internet to self diagnose I was convinced my symptoms were conducive to a pelvic stress fracture. I finally had enough and sought the advice of a friend as where I should go for help. I wound up at UHS Sports Medicine and quickly was sent for X-ray’s. That imagery showed no apparent fracture and the doctor continued his evaluation. The doctor would eventually suggest that my lack of calcium and protein intake over the past several years has been less than adequate. He also discovered I have a very serious hip flexor problem as well. He firmly believes that my rapid weight loss combined with the volume of miles over the past several years is a big contributing factor. We made several changes to my diet and I am currently in a 6-8 week physical therapy program consisting of 2-3 visits per week. After the conclusion of PT the doctor may or may not recommend an MRI or continuing physical therapy. I guess this would be dependent on my bodies response.
I began my PT treatments this week and I’ll just say this OUCH! I did ask if I could still run because I can’t imagine not doing something I love. I’ve been told I can run if I run at a slow pace making sure I keep my mileage very low for a while. This is subject to change depending on my body as well.
I’m excited about this because its a starting point for recovery and for the future.
Here we are the last day in January with no significant snowfall so far this winter and none in sight for the coming week. I’ve enjoyed this weather so much and as a matter of fact I’ve even run several days this month in shorts and a long sleeve shirt. I can proudly say I’ve only used the treadmill a handful of times due to my schedule and the wind. I hate the wind!
It has been a good month for me running and with no real races planned for the next 90 days I’m enjoying it even more. I call it stress free running. One thing I have noticed over the past two months is a tiny bit of speed improvement but by far I’ve seen my aerobic fitness increase. Last year my mileage was reduced quite drastically and I saw my fitness drop. However I have a long way to go in that department but the progress is promising.
This month the boys brought home the plague from school and kindly distributed it throughout the house. Ok not the plague but a cold to us guys is like the plague. I managed to get through it and have one of my biggest running mileage months. With a scheduled long run this morning I thought it would be best to get started early. Waking at 0545 in order to get myself together and get out there I hit the pavement by 0645. With winter still on the fence today was one of those shorts and long sleeve shirt days. I finished a strong month today with a total of 209.57 miles.
I’m hoping this weather pattern continues for February.
Standing at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island trying to seek some sort of shelter from the 40 mph winds and the 30 degree temps with very little luck. Layered in pants, sweatshirt, gloves, arm warmers and a hood, chatter from the runners can slightly be heard over the howling of the wind as I begin my stretching routine. I’m in wave 1 corral E with a 0940 start time. Slowly they begin herding us onto both the upper and lower level of the Verrazano Narrows bridge. The wind still howling, I shed my pants, runner chatter slowly fades as our National Anthem is sung, the firing of the howitzer and the New York City Marathon has begun.
Ascending the lower level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge the wind is like the hand of God, tossing us like pieces of paper into one another, I had all I could do to cross this bridge.
Descending into Brooklyn the wind fortunately was cut by some of the buildings I would guess and the sun actually felt warm on my face. Shedding my sweatshirt and mistakenly my gloves, nothing I can do but focus on the race. 7th Ave crowds begin to sparsely line the course, winding our way towards 4th Ave and the crowds grow. Bands, DJ’s and MC’s are in control at this point and my watch ticks off the first 5K. My adrenaline is pumping like crazy, I’m at a really comfortable pace. I move to the left side of the road in order to high five the now enormous crowds who are screaming at me, cheering my name, hugging me as I thunder on by. This is my first marathon and my good friend Brian made me a shirt for this occasion “Joe’s First Marathon” and let me just say this shirt gave me Rock Star Status for the day. I’m on a HUGE high right now but I’ve kept myself pretty much on pace in the mid/high seven minute per mile range and my watch ticks of the 10K mark. I’m feeling amazing, body is in sync, breathing spot on and I’m just taking it all in.
At this point the wind has been teasing us for a while, the buildings acted both like barriers and wind tunnels. Runners were being pelted with empty water cups making their way through the water stops. Running along Lafayette Ave, Bedford Ave and Manhattan Ave we make a quick right onto Greenpoint Ave and then a quick left onto McGuinness Blvd and mile 13.1 the halfway point. I remember thinking to myself I can do this its just another half marathon to run as we approach the Pulaski Bridge and the Queens Borough.
Crossing the Pulaski Bridge we make our way through a small part of Queens with the crowd support still going pretty strong at this point. Onto the Queensboro Bridge we were touched again by the hand of God. The wind was just absolutely brutal whipping right up the East river. A steady climb along the lower level crossing Roosevelt Island, no crowd support just the wind and the other runners fighting it out, complaining about the wind. I felt defeated from battling the wind at this point as we descend into Manhattan.
Coming off the Queensboro Bridge and onto 1st Ave was an experience in itself. At the Expo on Friday they had warned us this could be a place where our pace might get thrown off. The crowds were ENORMOUS along 1st Ave and at some points were fifty deep on each side. There were more bands, DJ’s, MC’s. People with signs cheering for friends and loved ones, children wanting to reach out and touch the runners as we passed, again we were all Rock Stars. I could feel my adrenaline kick in again as I ran towards the left side of the road, running up 1st Ave giving high five’s to everyone. People in the crowd were calling my name, yelling words of encouragement, again with the hugs and I have a smile from ear to ear.
In the back of my mind I know that my wife and kids will be at mile 18 96th street waiting for me. I start to look at street numbers along 1st Ave because I’m worried I will get carried away in all the energy I’ve been surrounded with and run right by them. I look up and I’m at 94th Street, I’m getting excited just two more blocks to go. And there in the distance I see my son Michael holding in the air a pink foam pool noodle they brought so I would be able to pick them out of the crowd. However hey did not see me approaching as I ran up and grabbed them all with a HUGE hug and kiss. They were so excited to see me as I was to see them and it gave me a quick boost of energy that I needed. Taking off and shortly after crossing the Willis Ave Bridge from Manhattan into the Bronx.
Mile 20, I hit the wall! The distance, the wind and the cold had finally begun to take its toll. I told myself “Joe six more miles” you’ve got this. There was no way I was going to let myself be defeated. Crowds had thinned quite a bit at this point, as I pressed on.
Back into Manhattan:
Crossing the Madison Ave Bridge from the Bronx back into Manhattan was a steep incline, the wind again was taking its toll and I took a short walk break. I’m back running!
Mile 21: I look over and see a guy stretching his calf on the side of the road. My left calf was burning a bit so I figured I’ll stop quickly and stretch. I look over at him and say “Hey we have five miles left, let’s finish this” Dave from Sweden looks at me and asks if I’d finish it with him he was hurting. I responded, ABSOLUTELY!
Mile 22: Dave is in real pain with severe side stitches and pushes me to carry on without him. I said no way we finish together, Dave insisted so I started to pull away. Both my glutes and my quads are on fire at this point. I’m dehydrated, exhausted and I take another short walk break.
Mile 23: On 5th Ave along Central Park and the crowds are nuts! I go through the water stop, grab a cup, I chug it, grab another take a few sips and toss it. I start to run, one hundred feet south of the water stop is a woman holding a box of grapes. She looks at me and says “Joe, grab a handful of energy and go finish this”. I reached in grabbed that handful and took off.
Mile 24: We are in Central Park and the crowd is going strong, I’m still moving.
Mile 25: Starting out of Central Park and onto Central Park South, I’m looking for Julie and the boys in the crowd. Crowd is overwhelming at this point. I cannot see them. Suddenly I hear “GERONIMO” I turn to my left and there they are waving and cheering. I make the right on CPS and I know this spot well. In 2011 we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade right here. I’m in the home stretch!
Mile 26: Columbus Circle, making the right back into Central Park and I can see the finish line. I’ve got this!
Mile 26.2: My feet cross the finish line confirming that I’m officially a marathoner.
I’m cold, tired, sore and disoriented. A volunteer puts my finisher medal around my neck and congratulates me, I begin to tear up. Another volunteer wraps me in a plastic New York City Marathon throw to keep me warm and congratulates me, I mumble a thank you. Waddling my way through Central Park towards the exit at 72nd street, I chug a bottle of Gatorade even though Gatorade and I don’t get along. I eat an apple and even try one of those extremely gross power bars things. Yeah I was that hungry! After a few bites of the bar I chucked it into the garbage. Craving a ham and cheese sandwich I made my way onto Central Park West where another volunteer wrapped my in a beautiful 2014 TCS New York City Marathon fleece lined poncho. She secured it for me, congratulated me and I stumbled my way towards 62nd street to the family reunification. There is where I met up with Julie and the boys. There they hugged me and congratulated me and told me how proud they were. Still craving my ham and cheese sandwich we made our way into the subway at Columbus Circle. The stairs were very difficult! Shortly after we arrived at Penn Station and the Long Island Railroad. With about 5 minutes to catch our train I was denied my sandwich.
The train ride to my parents was 90 minutes, but it was quiet and relaxing. Checking my phone my email inbox was inundated with messages of congratulations, good luck and so forth. Put it in perspective I had over 600 emails.
My Parents House:
After being picked up at the station by my dad all I wanted was a hot shower and food! Waiting for us were my brother and his wife, My sister with her family, my uncle and mom. Finally my hot shower, and then a huge spaghetti and meatball dinner followed by some awesome desserts.
Julie Geronimo, I love you and thank you for all of your sacrifice and support over these last few years. I could have never done this without you.
Diana Bean, where do I begin? This is all your fault, you pushed me to run my first ever race back in 2012. I will ever be grateful, Thank you!
My Family: You know you all rock! I love you all…
To all of you who have done nothing but support me and cheer me on you all are AWESOME & AMAZING!!!! I’m so fortunate to have you all in my corner. Thank you!
I loved it! The New York City Marathon was amazing, the people of New York are truly awesome and that’s what makes it the best city in the world. One journey for me has now come to the end. To be honest I don’t know what is next. All I can tell you is I love to run, I love the running community and I look forward to what is in store for my future.