The saga of Achilles

Once upon a time, there was this Greek dude named Achilles. He looked like Brad Pitt

Achilles was the FIERCEST warrior up in the Adriatic Area.

Christian Siriano is the Fiercest warrior in all of Manhattan...Is this reference way too out of date? I haven't owned a TV since Achilles was tramping around the Mediterranean
Christian Siriano is the Fiercest warrior in all of Manhattan…Is this reference way too out of date? I haven’t owned a TV since Achilles was tramping around the Mediterranean

Achilles’ mom was a nymph named Thetis. According to the Grecian gossip, Thetis dunked Achilles into the River Styx when he was a baby, making him invulnerable…mostly. Thetis held Achilles by the ankle while she was submerging her son in Styx’s waters, so his ankle wasn’t inured with magic mojo. He had a single week point: his Achilles heel.

Now if we could find a way to dunk the BAND Styx into the river Styx...
Now if we could find a way to dunk the BAND Styx into the river Styx…

I’m not sure why Thetis went through all the trouble to make her son invulnerable, but didn’t finish the entire job. It seems like it wouldn’t be too difficult to flip her baby boy around and go back for another coat of wonder-water. Maybe double-dipping was a serious taboo in ancient greek times?

Zeus is going to smite you SO hard if you go back into that guacamole twice with the same chip.
Zeus is going to smite you SO hard if you go back into that guacamole twice with the same chip.

Despite his podiatric problems, Achilles grew up to become a handsome, talented, and well-rounded Greek guy. He had a rewarding career: he loved slaying Persians, and rumor had it that he might be up for a big promotion to vice-president of pillaging. He had a great family life: he got along really well with his mother, and, even though they hadn’t had “that conversation” yet, he was thinking about becoming exclusive with his favorite slave-girl. Every Friday, Achilles and his best buddy Patroclus went out for happy hour at the Olive Garden.

Athena LOVES those damn breadsticks
Athena LOVES those damn breadsticks

Life was looking good for Achilles, until a teenage Trojan’s panty-raid sent the whole peninsula into pandemonium.

The king of Sparta, Minalaeus, had a hot wife named Helen. Paris, the prince of Troy, and Helen high-tailed it together, after a night of steamy passion, on what was supposed to be a routine diplomatic visit. Menalaeus, his toga thoroughly in a knot, launched a thousand ships full of giddy greeks to kindly request that his wife return home. The Siege of Troy was long, and boring. Troy had thick walls, and the ancient Greeks didn’t have bunker-buster bombs.


Eventually the greek soldiers got antsy (or maybe drunk), so they decided to do some arts and crafts. They made themselves a giant wooden horse, and all piled inside of it. The Trojans were desperate for entertainment after months of being besieged (this was before the age of Netflix, otherwise I’m sure that everybody could have happily holed up and binge-watched “House of Cards”). They decided to bring the giant horse inside the city’s gates.

Primary documents indicate that the Trojan Horse was likely NOT this fabulous and sparkly

Safely inside the walls of Troy, the Greeks within the horse slept off their hangovers until nightfall, then popped out of their pine-wood pony like a giant people piñata! These guys had just spent over a day LITERALLY crammed into a horse’s rear-end. They were not cheerful. They proceeded to express their displeasure via sword-point to the citizens of Troy. Our man Achilles went ape-shit: he knew that if he showed exceptional leadership while he sacked Troy, the big promotion was in the BAG. Unfortunately for Achilles, Paris, the pubescent prince who started this whole mess, got his hands on a bow and arrow and shot our hero right in the foot. The vulnerable foot.  Things ended tragically.

People named Paris screw EVERYTHING up
People named Paris screw EVERYTHING up

At this point you may be asking yourself: “Has Sam finally gone bananas?”

Don't you DARE put me on hold
More bananas than usual?

This blog is a place for recipes, races, rants about climate change, patriotic ramblings, ruminations, and selfies in running gear. Why in the world am I subjecting you, my gentle readers, to the least accurate historical re-telling since “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

Was this movie as awesome as it sounded?
Was this movie as awesome as it sounded?

Translated literally, “Achilles” means: “grief of the people.” I’m telling you this ancient saga because Achilles’ namesake tendon has been giving this modern runner no small amount of grief lately.

Achilles-tendonThe alternate title for this pedantic post is: “Sam stopped running for over a week and he’s really O.K. with it”

9 whole days!? Aggghhh
9 whole days!? Aggghhh


"I'm fine, REALLY, I'm overjoyed"
“I’m fine, REALLY, I’m overjoyed”

My left ankle felt vaguely tweaky on last Tuesday’s run. I ran seven miles on it Wednesday, which allowed me to realize that I recently made a series of poor life decisions, and I need to check myself before I wreck myself. I have, as I always do, been skimping on recovery. I didn’t really take any time off from running after my marathon in May. I didn’t taper going into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon. As I mentioned in my post about routines and ruts, my “training” in June (if you can really call it that) has been heavy on junk mileage, and I’ve been skipping yoga.

I'm boring, but consistent
If variety is the spice of life, I’m serving up a pretty bland sandwich

Wednesday’s run (and the limp-y day that followed) was a wake-up call. Walking was painful, and my ankle felt especially tender when I first got out of bed in the morning, or stood up after sitting for an extended period of time. I’m not a doctor, but I’m neurotic, over-educated, and I have access to webMD: I think I was feeling the warning signs of Achilles Tendonitis. This is not my first running injury. In 2012 I knew something was not-quite-right in my right foot, and decided to ignore it. I trained through pain, and was rewarded for my efforts with a calcaneal stress fracture, crutches, and three solid months of aqua-jogging.

I think the chlorine broke my brain...
I think the chlorine from the pool broke my brain…

Being sidelined with a major injury was DEVASTATING. I do not want to go through the strum und drang of a long, drawn-out recovery again. Last week I decided to stop running, and tried to avoid impacting my tender tissues. It took three days before walking didn’t give my tendon a twinge, but I had residual pain first thing in the morning for a few days hence.  Forcing myself to give up my miles of meditation has been mentally challenging. I keep telling myself that it is better to voluntarily take time off to to heal my tendon now, than be prohibited from pounding the pavement for months on end. In the meantime I’ve been doing a lot of this:

I forgot how much I love biking!

A lot of this:

“Hit the pool, not the bottle”

And trying to minimize this:

“But sometimes you have to hit the bottle too” Not that bottle, though…that wine was god-awful

I’ve even taped myself up, and climbed onto the elliptical to try and determine empirically whether or not I still hate low impact cardio cross-training machines.

Survey says: YES. God the elliptical is so boring! How do people DO this every day?

I’ve been icing, stretching, doing eccentric heel dips like a BOSS, and I hit two yoga classes! I’m trying to approach resting and recovery with the same level of manic focus and determination that I apply to training.

“I am TOTALLY going to PR in icing! What are my splits? 20 minutes on/20 minutes off is sort of like interval training…”

I have a lot in common with my housemate’s dog, Porter: we’re both easily excitable, we have fabulous hair, and we start howling if we don’t get our daily run in.



After nine days way from my favorite sport, I am ALMOST ready to start climbing the walls. Fortunately, I am also walking, skipping, and doing jumping-jacks pain free. I think that means I am ready to return to the roads. I am going to take myself out for a cautious test-run tomorrow morning to evaluate and appraise. If things are tweaky I’m going to stop immediately and take some more time off. If things feel good I’m going to ease back into my normal mileage, and be thankful that I dodged a bullet, this time.

I want to hear your injury recovery triumphs and horror stories! Let me buy you a virtual beer and we can commiserate! 


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