Sunday, June 17, 2018

Injury Time

  I have a shoulder injury.  It’s from a rather silly incident: throwing a ball for my dog.  And since I’m no longer in the military, getting injuries looked at isn’t the same as being in the Army.  I should say that I’m rather fortunate that even though we run with some movement to our shoulders and we (are supposed to) swing our arms while moving forward, the pain in my shoulder doesn’t manifest itself during a run.

  So, whenever I had an injury in the Army, I usually got treated immediately, or more often, go to “sick call” the next morning.  For those who don’t know, sick call is when servicemembers go to get checked out by medical personnel, usually around 6 in the morning.   And more likely, a supervisor or higher-ranking person will tell an injured but reluctant patient to go to sick call.  Problems and ailments can range from ankle sprains all the way to colds, fevers, and the flu.  And once a physician’s assistant or a doctor sees you, you get something called a profile.  A profile says what the service member can or cannot do and for how long.  These profiles are followed and adhered to very strictly, lest someone gets in trouble.  I used to hate getting a profile that restricted my running, but the doc’s word is final.

  When I injured my shoulder, I didn’t call my civilian doctor, mostly because I’ve been leery about learning how healthcare from off-post medical professionals happened.  But after a couple of weeks, I went to the acute care clinic on base.  Yes, I couldn’t avoid getting seen by the military; it was within my comfort zone and they don’t turn people away unless it’s something they cannot handle or the issue is very, very trivial.  

  So, the doctor on duty checked out my shoulder, asked several questions, and prescribed me to physical therapy.  A few days later, I talked with the physical therapist, and while talking about my shoulder, I told him that it was amazing that I could still run with no issues.  Of course, I also told him that I can run and keep my right arm and shoulder pretty much still since I do run with a GoPro in my hand.  I’ve done two races so far with this shoulder injury and the only time it hurt was when I reached for a tree branch.  That pain was terrible, by the way.  

  Even though the shoulder isn’t currently a problem while running, it is a problem to get me out there to run.  I do wake up with some very bad pain some days, and it’s enough to knock me off my rhythm and routine for something I like to do. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Volunteering and "Volunteering": Civilian Running Events versus Military Running Formations

  The other week, I volunteered for the South Carolina Governor’s Cup race.  This is the second time this year I’ve volunteered to help out for a racing event, but it got me thinking about the differences between a military organized run and a civilian racing event.  

  With both, there’s a lot of coordination across multiple entities.  You have to get with the local law enforcement and road officials to ensure the proper routes are closed off to traffic.  If there is a major intersection anywhere along the course, both events need to have someone with authority out there to direct traffic during the lengthy gaps of runners.  Both events also require a lot of work at the start/finish areas and that includes having people telling the participants where to go, where they can’t stand, and to help corral people to the correct designated areas.  

  Of course, the biggest difference between the two is I have never seen a water station on a military route, but I covered that in an earlier post.  

  For the Governor Cup Race, I helped out at the awards table.  It was our responsibility to get the plaques and top three finisher’s prizes prepped and ready for presentation.  We took care of the 5k awards, the half marathon prizes, and two different sets of medals for “triple crown” participants and the state’s prestigious runners’ club. 

  It was quite a task to set up the medals, plaques, and finisher coasters in a particular order and just like the military, not everything goes according to plan. No matter how much planning, prepping, and rehearsing you do, sometimes you just have to adapt, improvise, and overcome.  I say this because while we had all the awards separated by race and in age order, the award announcements alternated between the youngest and oldest categories and worked towards the middle.  And then there was the weird static electric issue with the plaques.  While we had no issues pulling the plaques from the 5k awards, the half marathon plaques wanted to stick to the bubble wrap that encased them in their respective boxes.  That made for a slow down in presenting the awards and there was at least one woman who insisted on telling a few of my fellow volunteers on how to get the awards ready for the next set of runners.

  But the overall experience was a positive one, and unlike the military, I wasn’t told that I had to volunteer to help out with the event.  I also received more of an appreciation for those who volunteer to help organize, run, and help out with the running races.