2016 has been one incredible year for me as a therapist. In the summer of 2015, I had the goal of trying to get picked to work at the USATF Olympic Trials in July. But before that happened, through a series events on pretty short notice, found a spot to help at the 2016 USATF Marathon Olympic Trials. I wrote about that trip here. This trip was amazing, and found an incredible passion for helping marathoners.
July came for the Track and Field Olympic Trials and I spent two weeks in Oregon where I had an amazing time working hard all day, every day I was there. After that trip, I had to re-focus on what was to come next. As I wrote in both blogs, those trips didn’t come cheap. I don’t have an endless travel budget, and since I’m consistently geographically disadvantaged from so many major running events, I needed to come up with a new plan.
I have been doing therapy since 2007. Having learned from Waldemar and Charlie Francis, I still had some doubt as to my skill level. I further learned insightful techniques from Dr. Mike Prebeg and Alejandro Elorriaga at the McMaster Contemporary Medical Acupuncture course using a Neurofunctional approach. The soft tissue techniques I picked up focusing on nerves has been a game changer. A good friend of mine, Tyrone Edge, competed as a Masters level sprinter for a few years, and had visited Waldemar on several occasions. If you know Tyrone, he doesn’t BS. Yet he gave me one of the greatest compliments after I treated him for a few races a while back.
Still, I had doubts in my level. Finally, after working the 2016 Trials, I gained a new confidence in my skills as a therapist. With goals of hopefully being chosen to work for a USATF National team in the future, I needed athlete recommendations for the application. Reading what the athletes wrote helped my confidence but also brought tears of joy to my eyes to read their genuine words about their experiences working with me.
I feel one of the things that makes me unique as a therapist is my ability to fix things quickly with the least amount of stress to the athletes body, and also my ability to prepare the muscles for competition, something I learned from my Canadian teachers. A runner who puts value in therapy, will appreciate these skills. The last thing you want before a race is to get pummeled by elbows leaving your legs feeling bad.
A few months ago, the elite women’s field was announced for the NYC Marathon. As a fan of running, this was going to be exciting, with the debuts of Molly Huddle and Kim Conley, in addition to the Kenyans and the second marathon of Neely Spence Gracey, this was going to be exciting! Out of the blue, a few weeks before the New York City Marathon, I was asked to be a personal therapist for one of the featured female runners, a runner I have worked with for a while but since moved to another state. This runner values my skills and I couldn’t be more excited to connect with her once again. As luck would have it, my schedule was open and I was heading to NYC!
Elite runners have dozens of items to get done prior to a race. Everything from credentialing, media interviews, drug testing, uniform checks, rules meetings, eating, and sponsor meetings to name just a few things. Working this event as a personal therapist was different from my Trials work. Our sessions had to be scheduled in between these events. There was some down time for once! I arrived Friday and soon after arrival began to work. With the race on Sunday, any issues needed to be addressed today.
Saturday morning there was a 5K race in Central Park, where several big names ran the challenging course. During this time, the runner I was with went for her run in another part of the park. Most times I work with athletes I’m stuck in the treatment tent or I see runners inside on my table. This was a unique opportunity to observe her running and doing strides. Taking mental notes for the therapy session later that day. After the Saturday session, things looked to be feeling good. We went through a timeline for Sunday’s race. Her bus was to leave a few blocks from the hotel at 6 am. Figuring out the sleep schedule for Sunday morning, we determined I had to be ready at 5:15 am for any last minute tune up work before she left. At 6am, the runners headed to the busses. Her husband, coach, agent, friend and myself all walked her to the bus, gave her some “Go Get ‘Em’s” and then had to wait several hours until the start of the race. The women’s race would end between 12:30 and 1pm.
I was able to get a Grandstand pass at the finish line and headed there early to get a good spot. (The finish line is just behind me in the photo). Watching the telecast at the finish line, it was exciting watching the splits every few kilometers, wondering what was going on in the race on the roads. Eventually the runner came to the finish giving everything she had left. Watching all the runners finish, it was clear this course is pretty brutal at the end.
After a post race drug test and a quick meal, we had time for a quick post race treatment to help facilitate recovery before I had to head to the airport to catch my flight. It was an amazing experience, and I hope there are more like this in the future.
Unless something last minute comes up in the next month, this will be the finishing trip for 2016. I am excited for 2017 and can’t wait to see what new adventures await!