With almost a month left before the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, I would have never thought we would end up back in Dr. Tentler’s office.
Well, Thursday morning before Saturday’s 10-mile-race finale of the 500 Festival’s Indy Miler Series presented by OrthoIndy that’s exactly where we were.
I wish I could say it was for a follow-up to see how Ryan’s toe had handled running since being given the all clear from his surgery to remove the subungual osteochondroma.
That wasn’t the case for our visit.
As we stretched after our pyramid-interval run on Monday morning, I noticed the inside of Ryan’s left shoe had been rubbed off. It looked like he had been dragging his left foot at times when he runs. His right shoe looked like it was still brand new even though he’s put about 170 miles on the shoes since coming back in February.
The scarier part for me was the location on his shoe. It was in the exact same area where Dr. Tentler had made the incision back in November to remove the subungual osteochondroma.
Below are the pictures of Ryan’s shoes and X-ray of the subungual osteochondroma
“You been dragging your foot when you run?” I asked Ryan.
“No,” Ryan said. “And I am not hurting!”
If you have followed my blog through the time we found out about the subungual osteochondroma and that Ryan would need surgery to remove it, you know he doesn’t feel pain. He knew what my next question was going to be and beat me to it before I could ask it.
We walked into the house. Wendy had already begun the school day with Micah. When she came to a pause of reading to him, I looked at her and said, “I think we have a problem. We might need to go see Dr. Tentler again.”
“For what?” She asked.
“This,” I replied as I showed her the shoe. “And if I was a betting man, I’d say this is what’s caused him to have surgery in the first place.”
She had that look like I was making a big deal about something minor. I went into my “let’s compromise” voice and said, “Alright before I call Dr. Tentler. I’ll message those who have been helping with Ryan and my friend, who is a doctor and physical therapist to get their opinions.”
All my running friends agreed something didn’t look right with Ryan’s left shoe. Then I got the reply from my doctor/physical therapist friend that sealed the deal of me calling Dr. Tentler. Upon looking at the pictures of the shoes, she replied, “I would need to see his gait, but damn…”
I didn’t get her reply until I got home from work that evening. It was too late to call Tentler’s office. I called the next morning. The receptionist said I could get Ryan in on Thursday.
Prior to the appointment, I did research on my own. Ryan still had two pairs of his older running shoes. I could see if they were rubbed off like his current pair. Both older pairs were chafed at the same place as his existing ones.
After I got home from work Wednesday night I took him over to the CLC and recorded him on the treadmill. I filmed him walking for two minutes and then I recorded him in regular time and in slow motion running at what I perceive as our race pace for the 500 Mini.
I also looked up information about autism and kids dragging their feet when they walked or ran. I wanted to go into the appointment with Dr. Tentler with as many facts as I could get about Ryan’s foot.
My biggest concern going into the meeting with Dr. Tentler was he would find something seriously wrong with the foot. He would want Ryan shutdown again. That would be a crushing blow especially with how excited Ryan is about running the final 10-mile race, Rock the Block and the Mini.
As he began his examination of Ryan’s feet, Dr. Tentler asked me if I had kept to my word about having Ryan only running 20-25 miles a week upon his return.
Since Ryan returned on Feb. 2, we have adhered to the standard 10 percent rule of running miles. We have only increased his weekly mileage by 10 percent from the previous week as we have progressed through training for the 500 Mini. His longest run has been 10 miles the last two weeks. Subsequently, doing the IronStrength workouts, I have us only running four days a week instead of five.
Dr. Tentler looked at Ryan’s feet. He looked at the shoes. He also watched the videos I had recorded on my phone from the treadmill. Then he watched Ryan walked up and down the hallway of the office.
Ryan didn’t show it while he walked in the hallway, but on the slow-motion video Dr. Tentler finally saw the evidence he needed to see with Ryan’s gait. It’s not every stride he makes but occasionally, he could see where Ryan’s left foot comes over and slightly brushes against his right.
Fortunately, it appears Ryan’s foot ailment will be somewhat of an easy fix. According to Dr. Tentler, Ryan has “forefoot varus.” Basically, in Ryan’s foot the bones in the front of the foot aren’t aligned in relation to the heel. Usually in this condition it causes the bones on the inside edge of the foot to sit higher off the ground that the outside of the foot during weight bearing.
Dr. Tentler asked Ryan if he had any pain with his shins as with this condition shin splints are common. Ryan shook his head in the negative. That’s when Dr. Tentler remembered, “I keep forgetting his pain threshold is off the charts. Of course, he probably didn’t feel anything.”
“Probably not,” I replied. “Trust me. When I’m not asking him multiplication questions, I am asking him how he’s feeling and if he has any pain.”
I returned a question to Dr. Tentler, “You think there might be a correlation between where Ryan’s rubbing on his left shoe and the osteochondroma?”
“More than likely,” Tentler replied.
Finally, Tentler got down to business and said it was time to get Ryan orthotic inserts for his feet. We return Tuesday for Ryan to be casted and have orthotics made for his shoes. Hopefully, we will have him adjusted to them in time to run in the Mini.
Miler Series Finale
Saturday morning came quick after being up a little later than I wanted studying for my MBA class. My alarm had been buzzing for at least 15 minutes before I finally realized it.
I hoped it would be a little warmer on Saturday morning than the forecasted 34 degrees. Our shorts I wanted to get to match the tank tops I planned for us to wear for the Mini had arrived Friday. I thought it would be an excellent idea for us to test the kit in the 10-mile run prior to running in them for the Mini.
Using the always helpful Runner’s World tool “What to Wear,” I plugged in the possible weather conditions for the race. It suggested a long-sleeve shirt, something to cover the ears, gloves and shorts. So, I decided we’d go with our Butler headbands, long-sleeve shirts with the tank tops over them, the shorts and gloves.
We arrived at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse ready for the finale. We did most of the pre-requisites before the race. We met up with good high school friend Mikeal Gordon and his friend
As we were talking and before taking our pre-race picture, Ryan wasn’t wasting any time Saturday morning. He had slipped on his sunglasses. He suddenly had gotten his serious gameface on a few minutes earlier than normal.
“He’s ready to go, Rob,” Gordon said.
“Yep,” I replied. “He’s all business.”
A few minutes later we went out and began our warm up. We did some dynamic stretches in the ally between a parking garage and the fieldhouse. What amazed me as we stretched there was a man in his running gear smoking cigarettes and stretching in the same area. As we finished caricoa drill, I told Ryan it was time for us to go somewhere else because the smoke was getting to me.
We ended up going to the starting line and doing some sprints from the fieldhouse to south street and back.
There was an announcement for everyone to begin lining up with their corresponding corrals. We looked for the person who would be setting an eight-minute pace through Clif Bars. We talked to him for a few moments and then it was time to start.
Right at 8 a.m., Indy Car driver Pippa Mann waved the green flag and we were off. I told Ryan our goal was to stay as close as we could with the Pacer. That lasted about a mile and half.
Once I knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pacer, I decided we were going to focus on ourselves, which is what we should have done in the first place. I slowed the pace down to 8:15-8:30. As we ran some runners asked me what I was pacing Ryan at since his return and what I thought we could do at the Mini. I responded by saying I had hoped we could run as we were for most of the Mini and then be ready for a strong push the last couple of miles.
“He’s determined that he’s going to beat his time from last year,” I told one runner who we stayed with for most of the race Saturday.
“He really looks in control,” one lady replied.
From Massachusetts Avenue to Fountain Square Ryan began to fade again. I expected that since this was only the second time he would have run 10 miles.
Something must have clicked because as we ran on East Pleasant Run Parkway, I told Ryan we only had two-and-half miles left. He instantly picked up his pace.
We made it to the final water stop where the 500 Festival Princesses were passing out the water and Gatorade cups. Ryan pointed at one of the princesses and took the cup. One sip of water then he dumped the rest of it over his head.
We passed through the Lilly campus and the water fountain outside the main building that my Dad was always fascinated with (he was amazed that how high the water in the fountain went was based on the speed of the wind).
With a half mile left I said those words Ryan lives to run for “It’s kick time! Time to go!”
As we made our way down Pennsylvania Street to the finish line, I looked back at him and told him to catch me. He caught me as I was giving someone a high five at South Street. Then I pointed at a few runners in front of us and I said, “we need to pass them at the underpass.”
Then we got to the south end of the fieldhouse. That’s when I became a runner and a cheerleader.
“Come on, Ryan! Crush me! All these people want to see you beat me! All you got right here!”
Nearing the finish line I reminded him to put his arms in the air.
Ten miles complete – victory achieved completing the Miler Series. The “kick” no longer seemed to be in neutral as Ryan said he felt it was in the six miler back in March.
I didn’t stop my watch until we were completely through the finish line. It read 1:22:19. That was about two and half minutes slower than last year’s 10-mile time when the race started and finished at the NCAA Hall of Champions.
When we went to obtain our results inside Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, we were told there had been a mix up regarding the bib numbers and the chip stickers on the back. The bibs with the first two numbers of 63 and those with 66 had the wrong chips stickered on the back. They asked us to come back a few minutes later for the results.
When we returned, they hadn’t got them all completely switched but could tell us our times. Ryan had beat me by a second – 1:22:13 to 1:22:14.
Considering Ryan went two months without running and only began speed work a couple of weeks ago, I am ecstatic where we are with a month left before the Mini.
If the orthotics do their thing once he’s adjusted to them, the Mini could be a profound way for Ryan to truly say his return is complete.