My Summer of Not Running: How a Bad Race, Injuries, and Minor Surgery Sunk the Season

Summer is gone. Over. Done.

Sure, there may be a few weeks of warm weather left ahead, but summer as a concept as much as a season has left the building. I know this because my son is back in school, football is on TV, and pumpkin flavored beers are now flooding the shelves of my local grocery store.

When it came to running and fitness, I went into this summer with high hopes. The plan was to crush my half marathon in May, continue with a consistent running schedule and participate in plenty of 5Ks and 10Ks during the months of June, July and August. All this running, along with a few days a week of upper body exercise, was going to help me lose 5-10 pounds and reach the current incarnation of my “ideal weight.” It was gonna be awesome!

Unfortunately, this grand plan never came to fruition.

In fact, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to refer to the last few months as my summer of not running. The downward spiral started in May. My wife and I ran the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon in San Ynez, CA. The event was great, the scenery was beautiful, but my running was ridiculously, horribly bad. The main culprit was a lack of sleep as I uncharacteristically failed to fall into slumber and managed around two hours of shuteye the night before the race. Though I strongly suspect that being on and off antibiotics for a month and a half (more on that later) also contributed to the weak performance.

I took some time off in May to lick my wounds and rest my ailing body (again, more on that later). Once I got back to being active, I managed to slice open my left big toe while camping. This resulted in a large piece of skin dangling from said toe which resulted in more time off from running.

I rebounded from this injury in time to run two 5Ks in a six day span. On the Thursday night between these races I played soccer and took a violent kick to my right big toe. This resulted in pain, swelling and some nasty bruising, which resulted in more time off from running. (After I ran the second 5K, of course!)

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The author’s mangled big toe. (You’re welcome.)

Then came the surgery.

Back in March I started experiencing some discomfort in my testicles, particularly on the left side. It was thought that my left epididymis was infected. (Feel free to click for a definition as you’re likely not familiar with these tricky testicular tubes) I was prescribed antibiotics and after a couple rounds of doxycycline failed to cure what ailed me, I was prescribed Bactrim. This new drug not only didn’t help, but led to the new and exciting discovery that I’m allergic to sulfa antibiotics. The only thing left to prescribe was Cipro which I wouldn’t even consider for reasons most runners are well aware of.  Surgery was the last option.

I’ll save everyone (especially the men) the gory details of epididymis removal. By surgical standards it’s a relatively simple procedure, but it’s still surgery. That means recovery, which resulted in — you guessed it —  more time off from running.

By the time I got myself moving in mid-August, summer was winding down and my legs felt sluggish and fatigued. Every stride of my short runs (the only kind I could even realistically attempt) felt like I was running through cement, molasses, quicksand, and every other cliché that’s ever been uttered about slow running.

It sucked.

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Without summer running, it was tougher to burn off calories from summer cocktails.

Now September is here and summer has bid me adieu. And while there remains some minor post-op discomfort and my right big toe is still not 100%, I can at least say I’m running regularly and starting to my legs back. I’m a few weeks into my fall training schedule and registered to run the Golden Gate Half Marathon in San Francisco on November.

As someone who lives in the Pacific Northwest and longs for warm weather running, I’m obviously disappointed with how the summer of 2016 played out. But these things happen. It’s in the past. I’m over it. All I can do now is move on, train hard, redeem myself in my next half, and look forward to next summer… which arrives in 288 days.

Not that I’m counting.

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