Last Thursday we walked into Dr. Tentler’s office for another follow-up.
Ryan and I were both fairly confident Dr. Tentler would give Ryan the all clear to get back to running during this appointment.
It had been two months post-surgery. We had done everything Dr. Tentler had instructed us to do in regard to Ryan’s recovery.
We checked in and we hadn’t even opened the pages to the November edition of “Runner’s World” when the nurse opened a door and called Ryan’s name. She led us to one of the examination rooms and told us Dr. Tentler would be in momentarily.
Unlike other doctors when the nurse says they will be in to see you shortly and it seems like an eternity, Tentler wasted no time. We heard him in the hallway and about 30 seconds later the door opened and he appeared.
Tentler raised the chair a few inches. He took about one minute to look at Ryan’s toe. He didn’t touch it. Tentler looked at Ryan and then me and said the words we’d been waiting for him to say since the last visit in December.
“Everything looks great,” Tentler said with a smile as he pushed his glasses back up to his brow. “You can return to running, Ryan. No restrictions.”
Ryan’s reaction was priceless. He literally jumped out of the chair and rubbed his hands together like he does when gets overly excited. Ryan giggled and looked at both of us and said, “Yeah!”
I didn’t expect that sort of response from him. Mainly because throughout his recovery only once did Ryan say he had missed running.
That one time happened on a morning about two weeks prior to Thursday’s appointment on a Friday. I returned from a run. He was waiting for me at the front door. As he opened the door Ryan asked how many miles I ran and said he couldn’t wait to get back out there with me.
We left Dr. Tentler’s office and got in the car.
“Now what?” Ryan asked. “We go run when we get home?”
“We get doughnuts,” I said.
We stopped at the grocery store and got doughnuts to celebrate Ryan’s release. I told him we would run after I got home from work that night.
Which is exactly what we did. When I got home from the “World On Time,” we had dinner. I went upstairs and got dressed to run before taking Andrew to his Bible study.
Once I got back, Ryan was ready to go. My watch found our location and I said, “ready, set – go”
Ryan took off and I said, “Whoa! What are you doing?”
Coach Frahm, Coach Harrell, Coach Byland, and Coach Jenny and all the other coaches had told me to make sure to ease Ryan back into running. All of them basically told me the same thing, “Walk first and then gradually build up to speed. Ryan’s been out two months, it won’t be close, but it should like starting over.”
“We walk first,” I instructed.
My goal for these first few times out was to go 30 minutes alternating a walk/run ratio of every quarter mile.
We walked around the corner and down the street for the first quarter mile. Once my watch read .25, I said, “go!”
We took off and a nice leisurely pace. I could already tell Ryan was glad to stop walking and get to running. He had that big smile on his face. We kept up with each other stride for stride. We started to make the turn around a cul-de-sac when I said, “stop.”
“How’d it feel?” I asked.
“Good,” Ryan replied.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure,” Ryan replied as if I was asking him if he had done his homework, made his bed and brushed his teeth.
You have to remember Ryan doesn’t feel pain like you think he should. We never really knew he was having issues with his toe until I noticed the hitch in his stride or he was asking me how much longer we had to run.
At the 15-minute mark, we turned around and headed back home. As we ran, Ryan looked like he hadn’t missed a beat with his running. His form looked good and he looked comfortable when we did pick up the pace.
We returned home and I went into the house and got my phone. If you know we well enough, you know I am big “Sherlock” fan.
I had planned this moment ever since I knew Ryan was going to be away from running for an extended period of time. I was going to have him do like Moriarty at the end of season three of “Sherlock” when he asked, “Did you miss me?”
With his back turned toward the phone, I waited three seconds and snapped my finger. On cue, Ryan turned around and asked, “Did you miss me?”
It was perfect.
When I posted it on social media, several friends commented they were glad to see Ryan back. One even said it was creepy and enjoyed the “Sherlock” reference.
We’ve run five times since Thursday night continuing with the walk/run pattern.
Sunday was the last time we went for only 30 minutes. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we extended the mileage to 3.15 miles. Monday we stayed with a quarter mile walk/run. On Wednesday after the first mile of walk/run for quarter miles, we ran half miles for portions of miles two and three. Today, we ran half miles in each of the three miles. Ryan giggled and smiled all the way through.
It’s a great start for his return and training for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon in May.