Two Rivers runner back on track after foot surgery

Nicole Strutz has been running since high school. She finished her first half marathon in 2013 and is a regular at community 5 and 10K race events. In 2016, she ran the Oshkosh Marathon and earned a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

The Boston Marathon, often considered the highlight of a runner's career, has strict qualification standards based on age, gender, and time. Many runners try for years before they're fast enough to earn a spot.

Nicole was just 21 when she qualified and was eager to test her mettle at one of the world's best-known races. But one little misstep nearly derailed her plans.

Down, but not out

Nicole was attending a concert with friends when she stepped into a pothole and lost her balance. The pain was immediate. She couldn't walk on her left foot at all that night, but still, Nicole held out hope it would feel better in the morning.

It didn't. She soon met with Aurora BayCare foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Jason DeVries who confirmed a bone on the outside of her foot was broken. In fact, X-rays revealed she'd probably fractured the bone years before without realizing.

Nicole was devastated as she saw her hard work and plans for Boston slipping away. But Dr. DeVries quickly relieved her fears.

"Dr. DeVries understands, from an athletic perspective, that people want to get back to their sport as quickly as possible," Nicole said. "He was very comforting. He told me I'd be healed enough to train."

Racking up the miles

Dr. DeVries used a screw to secure and support the broken bone. Nicole spent a little over a month in a boot after the operation, using crutches early on to help her get around. But within three months she was running again. Then, nine months after surgery, in April 2017, she ran the Boston Marathon. Two months later, she ran the Titletown Ultra, completing 38 miles in a six-hour period. Her new goal: a 50-mile event.

"Dr. DeVries knew how much I loved running," Nicole said. "He told me I'd be back to where I was at within a year, and that's very true. I was running the Boston just nine months after surgery. It was unbelievable. It was…wow!"

Aurora BayCare offers advanced foot surgeries and treatment. Consult with our orthopedic specialists and get back in the game, quickly and safely.