Achilles problems: Back to the drawing board

Sunday, I went on what, for recent training purposes, would have been considered a “long” run. It was 3.01 miles, and yet having only done one mile earlier in the week and none the three or four before, I guess it was a classic example of me setting myself up for failure.

This Achilles Tendonitis stuff is no joke. I’ve been working around it since early in 2016. Now I’ve lost all of 2016 and 2017 as a runner, two of my prime years considering I turned 27 and 28 in that time.

Alas, it’s back to the drawing board one last time. I’ve never been great with stretching or icing or doing strengthening exercises, even when physical therapists have given me the plan and instructions for how and what to do. Discipline, it seems, is something you can’t impart on someone. I have been as terrible a student of this as could ever be possible.

But hey, there’s never been a more opportune moment to learn.

I spent 20 minutes icing each tendon (and an hour trying to stay off it so it could thaw lol) twice yesterday. Today I’ll do the same. I’m hopeful though, despite how annoyed I feel even as I write this.

So while I let these damned things heal, I’ll be going to back to those old workout sheets that I know I still have somewhere, and maybe this time I’ll succeed in doing the things religiously over the next month. Meanwhile, I’ll be staying away from running until Jan. 5. 2018. I have some huge, wonderful, exciting athletic goals for 2018 and for 2019, which I’ll share later this week or month.

If I can do the right things and take care of my body the way I need to in that time, maybe I’ll be able to accomplish all of them.

Have a great rest of your day, and as always, I hope you’re well.

Poetry: Daydreaming While In Lit Class

(Editor’s note: This poem was originally written Monday, April 17, 2017 while the Boston Marathon was underway.)

Daydreaming While In Lit Class

I think about what it it’ll be like:
posting that long-triumphant status,
experiencing that special emotion
of measurable,
anticipated success
After a lifetime of waiting for “indefinite” to end.

That overwhelming joy I daydream of,
of when I’ll post “I haven’t run a half-marathon since 2015,”
only to post follow with “….until now,”
with a colorful date, and a poster
of a race location.

I daydream of that,
as I sit in a literature class,
while thousands celebrate Patriot’s Day
in running’s Eden: Boston.

Yesterday, I started my return-to-run progression.
Just 20 minutes of intentioned-walking.
One day down.

A lot to go.
But one less than yesterday…


A Few Weeks In To Tap 3

Editor’s Note: This was initially written back in early February, but was never published though it was fully written. Now seems like an appropriate and interesting time to share, as a way of taking it back to a time in Tap 3. Enjoy 🙂


It’s horrifying to think we’re already in February isn’t it?

This semester, I started taking Tap 3 “Advanced Tap.” I also decided, prior to the semester, that I would begin training for my first full marathon. This is something I’ve failed at twice before, in each instance because I tried to train for a full that fell on Feb. 14 or that weekend, which meant I had to train through the snow and through winters that felt about as warm as I imagined the surface of Pluto must feel.

Still, I was sure I could do it this time. It was El Niño, so it was setting up to be the warmest winter in years, and I was training for a May race. Should have worked perfectly.

Instead, I realized by the end of week one that I made a massive miscalculation.

I misjudged the devil out of Tap 3.

I knew it would be fun, and I knew it would be mentally hard, and I knew it would be a workout, but my gosh I didn’t see how much of a workout it would always be.

Keep in mind I’m not complaining at all. I love it, and I love knowing that, by the time it’s done, I’ll be ready to completely rock dance camp again in August. I love knowing it’s making me sharper. I love knowing it’s pushing me far outside my comfort zone and making my feet faster, more precise and capable of enduring more than I ever thought they could.

I just also may have to stop my full-force training, and make this kind of a “dummy-run.” I may try and add the miles and see if I can get to the point of running it, and just run it in Manhattan to see what it feels like and see if I want to deal with that in a full-race environment. Initially though, in weeks 2-4 of my running training, all indications were that I flirted with achilles tendonitis. So I backed off running for those three weeks and ran a grand total of nine miles in there. That’s nowhere near what I “should” be at per my running training, so I’m probably in a bit of trouble with that one. Oh well.

For the moment though, there’s something bigger making me want to hold off on training. I really really really (for emphasis) hate feeling like I’m not dancing well enough to compete on the Tap Ensemble. I want to get better, I want to be one of the best dancers on the Ensemble, even if that isn’t possible and never will be possible because of how new I am. I want to make that pursuit though! I want to chase the gap between the other dances and I like a racing opponent in the distance who I can see ahead of me but fading and who I’m determined to overtake. I musn’t let an injury derail that pursuit, so if I have to back off running to stay healthy while I get used to this semester’s dance load, I can accept that.

I feel such tremendous loyalty to my team that I find myself inclined to give tap my full athletic priority for the moment. I’ll run, but the mileage may not be enough to make it to my chosen full marathon race-date. Instead, I may have to “settle” for trying to PR again at the Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon this year. :). Then again though, I did place third in my age group last year, and I’m eating better and training harder via core workouts and dance classes, so maybe I can make the effort in that regard count.

Here’s the truth: I love this dance stuff. I’m not good at it, but I want to be, and I’ll do anything to be, within ethical and legal limits of course! I want to become good enough that I can do it at local gigs and talent shows and maybe even one day become a professional. I have no expectations, but as I once wrote:


The preceptor that teaches us to dance with Success,

Chooses to keep better quality company than Comfort.


Tap Happy 🙂

-Shelton 🙂


Morning Reading Nov. 25.

I confess, dear reader, that the title does leave much to be desired, doesn’t it. Don’t worry, I’m working on that. These morning posts may only have have the date in the title for now, but I’m working on something creative and puny to give y’all a glimpse of what’s inside from day to day. Thanks for hanging with me as I work out these kinks.

As always, here’s an excerpt or two from my morning reading today. Continuing back with Jack Gilbert’s poems that I read yesterday, here is another bit from the first one. Tomorrow, I’ll share my third and final excerpt from that one before, reluctantly, moving on. Have a good day. 🙂

“It puzzles me that / I care so much for the ghost of the boy in high school, / since I am not interested in those times. But I know / why the other one frightens me. He is the question / about whether the loves were phantoms of what existed / as appearance only.” — from “Becoming Regardless” by Jack Gilbert

Here’s from the prose. Fun stuff to think about…

“A lot of foot and knee injuries that are currently plaguing us are actually caused by people running with shoes that actually make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate, give us knee problems. Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented by Nike, people ran on very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet, and had much lower incidence of knee injuries.” — Daniel Lieberman, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Harvard, via “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall

Morning Reading Nov. 23.

Hi everyone!

Here are some interesting quotes from my morning reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them. 🙂

Waiting meaning without things. Meaning love sometimes dying out, sometimes being taken away. Meaning that often he lives silent in the middle of the world’s music. Waiting for the best to come again. Beginning to hear the silence as he waits. Beginning to like the silence maybe too much.” — From “Waiting And Finding” by Jack Gilbert.

Here’s my favorite of the day:

“But that smile is strangely stirring. You can tell she’s having an absolute blast, as if there’s nothing on earth she’d rather be doing than here, on this lost trail in the middle of the Appalachian wilderness. Even though she’s just run four miles farther than a marathon, she looks light-footed and carefree, her eyes twinkling, her ponytail swinging around her head like a shirt in the fist of a triumphant Brazilian soccer player. Her naked delight is unmistakable; if forces a smile to her lips that’s so honest and unguarded, you feel she’s lost in the grip of artistic inspiration.” — From “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall

The Newbie Chronicles (Part 4): “That’s As Relaxed As My Hamstring Gets.”….”Oh My God, That’s Scary.”

As the spring semester rolled on, and Springdance results were posted, I continued my quest of bodily exploration. Ballet 1 was my central class of choice since our Tap teacher was on sabbatical for the next five or six months.

The quote in the title was one of many fascinating exchanges I had with my Ballet teacher that semester.

At one point, the lovely and kind teacher came over to me during warmups at the barre and looked at my hamstrings, then gently grabbed the back of my leg and told me to relax. I told her I was, which she initially seemed not to believe until we worked on it a little more.

Apparently I’m tighter than a broke man’s beer budget.

Flash forward six to nine months, all the way to two weeks ago, and the adventures have continued. A couple of weeks prior, I went into the local doctor’s office here on campus and asked to get my knees checked out. I was worried I had accidentally damaged myself the Tuesday prior before Tap class. I was warming up to a song I’d recently found (“Run Boy Run” by Woodkid) and I wasn’t nice to my knees.

Well that initial doctor had told me “no tap until you can see the physical therapist.”

It was, however, her opening line about 10 minutes prior that won my trust as she ordered me to sprawl out on the table in exam room four.

“…well, I won’t be able to help you much, but physical therapy will.”

Bill Snyder couldn’t have given me a more inspirational pep talk, or one that would have inspired such confidence in what he was about to say.

Just kidding. Thanks lady.

Still, I went to Tap class after that day and took it easy. The truth of the matter was that in 13 years of running I had experienced pain of almost all varieties. This, though, was something new. This was a burning type thing around the knee caps, and slightly more tension in the IT Bands. As athletes, I’ve always believed it was our obligation to our bodies to know when we were just being sissies and whining because we were sore, and to know how to differentiate between when we might actually be hurt. That’s why I went in at all; I thought I might have pinched a meniscus or something.

About a week later, I sat again on the table sprawled out, but this time not in exam room four. This time, I was in the physical therapists office, and Alissa, the therapist who I’d seen for my wrist injury in March, was directing one of the other physical therapists as the newer therapist examined my leg.

She led me through some tests measuring strength and flexibility. Before long, the lady came to my knee caps, where most of my pain had been centralized, and tried to move them.

Remember that first exchange I told you about between my ballet teacher in spring and I? You know, the one in the title bar above? Well, that basically happened again.

The therapist told me, and I’m paraphrasing here: “You know those are supposed to be able to move right?”


Apparently the muscles and such that flow over the knee cap are supposed to be relaxed enough that a person should be able to move their kneecap up and down and left and right without too much difficulty.


I guess running and dancing and athletic stuff in general causes your muscles to tighten up. Since I’ve added dancing to my regular fitness activities in the last year, it appears I’ve pushed my activity beyond what my body could tolerate without regular stretching.

Again: surprise!!!

Still, I was happy to have learned all of this, especially after the two therapists consulted and decided just to humor me and check out my meniscuses (which were totally fine). Here’s what I learned:


-Yes, I’ll be in pain now and then, particularly in the knees.

-I’ll always be prone to such soreness without preventative measures.


-Those preventative measures consist simply of 30 minutes to an hour per day of stretching. Once I get into a routine of that, I’ll be fine as long as I maintain that parallel to my level of activity.

-Since stretching is a way of preventing injuries, stuff like Yoga is great. Meaning I have to keep doing it not just because I love Yoga, but because if I don’t, I could be forced to deal with injuries from running and tap dancing as well.

I’ve always been determined to resist aging as much as possible, both in my body and in mind, but apparently I’ll have to go old-school here, and just start stretching before my day begins.

A Hiatus From Yoga…Reluctantly

I subscribe to a number of Yoga related websites and services, via Facebook, Twitter, the whole shebang. I love my Manduka mat and my towel and my blocks, and in the single year I’ve been doing Yoga I’ve seen such an improvement in how I felt and in my flexibility.

So words can’t describe my frustration that my wrist hasn’t healed completely.

For some background, here’s wassup. On the morning of March 4th, I woke up with soreness in my right wrist. It was bad. Stiff and sore at the same time. I wasn’t able to put weight on it at all. Pushups were impossible. Figuring I had simply slept on it awkwardly, I decided to lay off it for a couple of weeks.

Two weeks later, I tried putting weight on it again. It hadn’t improved. The initial soreness from the night of the 3rd was gone by the end of the 4th, but two weeks later I still wasn’t able to put weight on it at all. This is when I sought medical attention.

The local doctor said I had sprained it. I was put in a wrap and told to lay off of it for a few weeks. Four weeks later I went back. It had been improving, and I was able to put weight on it finally, holding full pushup poses without pain. So the doctor cleared me to gradually start working on strengthening it again.

Still, I would have random stints of pain in the wrist and arm, and I wasn’t sure what it was. Also, I was experiencing tingling occasionally in my ring and pinkie fingers in that same hand. This was troubling because I’m right hand dominant. I’m a writer, I’ve played Ultimate Frisbee intermittently, these are just a couple of the things I do a lot. So I emailed him and told him about these symptoms after thanking him for all his help (he had done well in my opinion). He said these symptoms seemed related to the Ulnar Nerve. He referred me to the in-house physical therapist. This was back around the end of May that this happened.

Six weeks of 1-2 sessions of physical therapy per week, various exploratory sessions and some slight improvement before regression later, I have now been referred to a local hand specialist. The one thing that seems to have been totally crossed off the list is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome because the nerve giving me trouble doesn’t run through the Carpal area, according to my therapist. Otherwise though, after consulting my initial doctor, they have decided this goes above their level with regards to hand knowledge.

So I’ve been referred within the city to a place a couple of blocks from where I live. It took me a week to get an appointment due to availability, so it’s impossible to know yet if that’s a great thing or a horrible one. Either way, I’m eager to hopefully learn what’s up.

In the meantime, as you might have guessed, there’s to be no pushups and thus no Yoga (Downward dog, plank poses, and a number of other yoga poses have similar configurations as to where your weight is put).

I’m grateful to God for my running and dancing, and that my legs are holding steady through the initial week of training for my first full marathon. Without Tap dancing or running, I’d be in pretty bad shape right now psychologically. I’m not in great shape as it is, but those two things have kept my moral steady and kept me from getting too particularly down on myself because I have to write less. Even typing often brings on tingling in that same hand and area, so as I write this you should know I do it without my normal level of comfort.

For someone who has never been able to see himself as able to do anything besides writing well enough to make a living off of it, this is scary friggin stuff. But again, praise God for running and Tap dancing.

Announcement: I’m going to change my approach to running a little bit

I’ve made a decision. I will not attempt the Austin full marathon this coming February. I WILL still run the half though. That’ll be my third half, and will be better for me for a number of reasons.

I make that decision because I’m running out of roads and places to run in this little town, and it’s wearing me out honestly. I’m finding myself gradually less interested because I’ve having a hard time finding any adventure in it here, and it’s eating at my interest, which I need to keep for at least 85 more year :P. But the camaraderie of Austin, the joy of being back in a place like that and running with 3000 other runners with the chance to not only finish but to compete is encouraging and could very likely relight that competitive excitement within me that I’ve missed channeling. :).

So we’ll go, same date and time, and we’ll try and break 1:35 to set a PR. That’s what we did at Prairie Fire last year, and I feel this year I made so many steps forward in my progression as an athlete that I stand a good chance of doing something wonderful in Austin if I focus on the distance I can do.

I may or may not ever complete a full, but that doesn’t stress me too much. After all, only saying you ever ran half marathons doesn’t automatically denote you as “out of shape” by any means :P. Just saying 🙂

Nerves and Daydreams

My heart rate just accelerated to possibly unhealthy levels. I just found the Twitter feed of the Austin Marathon and checked out the photos from last year’s race.

I have to try not to think about it and what this coming race in February means to me. As I was running Sunday, I started daydreaming about what that day will be like. The song I’ll have blaring from my iPhone earbuds as I roll in, the anxiousness I’ll feel as I walk up to the gear check, waiting in as normal of a line as any other I’ve ever been in, but with a twist that it’ll feel more profound, more significant, than ever. It won’t be just another race; it’ll be my first full marathon (Lord willing of course). I imagine I’ll feel a lot like the way I will when I sit down to write my first article for the New York Times.

Even now I get nervous as I lay on my couch this morning, covered in a comforter with a warm cup of coffee. It’s that “walking up to the starting line” kind of anxious you get as a runner. It’s a lot like the nerves you get as a writer when you sit at a blank screen with your notes strewn out in front of you. It isn’t a fear of failure that scares you or makes you anxious. No, you know you’re prepared for what you’re about to do because you’ve done it all countless times before. You know what kind of pain and struggles you’ll likely go through. Like that moment writer’s block hits with about 400 more words needed, when you’ve already got 400 typed out. Or that moment your calves start to feel tight or your back starts to give a little twinge of pain as if it just wants to reminds you that it’s there, usually at around mile 12. You also know, to some degree, how you’ll overcome each obstacle.

But experience doesn’t take away the nerves for those who compete with themselves like we runners and we writers do. For us, those nerves likely will never cease existing because for us it’s all about pushing ourselves more. If we can run 26 miles, we want to run it faster. If we can write articles and make dry political discussions read like vivid poetry, we want to make our wording more concise or our stories more focused. For us, like coaches in the world of athletics, misery is a part of our passion. We do not do because we can, we do because we can’t not. We don’t run because we like it, we run because we can’t imagine a life without it and all it signifies. For us, true victory can never happen because perfection can never happen. The same is true with writing.

So as I sit here on a chilly Tuesday morning wrapped in a comforter, I find myself turning away from the photos of those who ran last year, and I turn my thoughts inward to my own training. I’ve got 10 weeks left before I see these things all firsthand, through the Canon lenses of my own eyes. 10 weeks before I smell the aromas of Austin and hear the chatter of my herd. Just as it does now, I know it’ll overwhelm me then too.

No need to scare myself to death just yet though. Much better to just focus on where we are, and let those moments of reflection hit us with full force when the time is right.

Announcing a new series: The Newbie Chronicles

I’ll always remember 2014 as the year I stumbled into two passions I never would have expected: Yoga, and Dancing. Yes I know those two things probably sound strange coming from a straight dude like myself, but that’s how it’s turned out. I’ve always been a runner, but this is the the year I learned that my love of activity transcended running. This is the year I realized I love movement! I love the human body! I love exploring what mine can do and cheering on other people as they explore what theirs can do. I’m coming to realize this year that I just love pushing my body to it’s absolute limits and training it to do more! It’s more than just a love of pushing myself to run longer distances and to run faster and to run longer distances faster. It’s more than just that; it’s a love of pushing myself to be stronger in the most unique of ways, which Yoga is great for. It’s a love of pushing my body, not just my legs, to be more precise and more graceful and more coordinated, things Yoga is good for but Dance is GREAT for. This is going to be the year I look back on and remember as the year my whole life changed from conventional old “I’m a runner” to the more exciting possibility of saying “I’m an athlete.”

I began dancing on January 24th of this year, and began practicing Yoga on January 27th. So, in case you can’t see, I’m new at both. Anyone who has ever started something as an adult can tell you that means there will be some interesting stories caused by such…amateurism (is that even a word? Haha oh well).

Therefore, today I am announcing the start of a new series. I’d like to promise it’ll run weekly, but I can’t: It’ll run when something eventful or crazy happens. Usually that’ll mean once a week but sometimes more and sometimes less. The series shall be called “The Newbie Chronicles.” I don’t know if I came up with that or if I heard it somewhere and just liked it, so my apologies if I stole it from anyone. But either way, I first had the thought of it this morning at Yoga. So I’m going to run with it…no PUN intended…hehehehe.

I’m going to get to work on “Part 1” of this series now. Look for it later under the category “My Health Journal.” Enjoy :).