Dave Klibbe’s shooting for a sub-24-minute 5k. He’s very close. In fact, he may have accomplished his goal by the time you read this.
A little less than a year ago, Klibbe, 66, a manager at Woodward Governor in Fort Collins, was in Boulder having his right hip replaced. After continuing to run but suffering for years with an arthritic situation that eventually resulted in a hairline hip fracture from the impact of bone-on-bone, Klibbe agreed to surgery only because he was told that he would be able to run again one day. He did a 24:15 5k two days before surgery and ran six miles the day before he was operated on. Six months and a whole lot of hard work later, Klibbe stepped out his front door for his first post-surgery run. “It felt weird,” he admits. “I couldn’t get any sort of rhythm going.”
Elated that he was accomplishing any forward motion on his own two feet without the pain he’d become so accustomed to, Klibbe kept running, a little farther and a little faster each time he went out. On Memorial Day, eight months after surgery, he completed the Houska Houska 5k in 24:39. In July he ran the Double Road Race (a 10k followed by a 5k) in Denver with times of 55:29 and 28:38 and the Human Race 5k in Fort Collins in 24:20.
Klibbe was able to return to running because he wanted it so badly and because of help from two skilled professionals. Through his local orthopedist, Dr. Steven Yemm, Klibbe learned about Dr. James Rector, the only doctor in the state who performs a special procedure called Birmingham Hip Resurfacing. After the surgery, Klibbe dedicated himself 100 percent to working with Brad Ott at Rebound Physical Therapy in Fort Collins. “When I was exhausted, Brad would say, ‘Give me five more.’ and I would,” Klibbe said.
Two days after surgery, Klibbe went home on a single crutch with manageable pain. After two weeks he was off pain medication and had begun physical therapy. “I had no idea how much my leg had suffered from running on a bad hip,” he says. “I began learning how to activate the proper muscles, develop balance, muscle control and strength. After four weeks I biked 20 miles and hiked five easy miles. By three months, my limp had disappeared, I was sleeping all night and could drive without pain. I could trim my toenails and put on my shoes pain-free.
When Dr. Rector told Klibbe he could begin running six months after surgery, he began harder workouts and Ott checked him for symmetry and any favoring of the reconstructed hip. At month five Ott could not distinguish the difference between the repaired hip and the healthy one. Klibbe learned a great deal about his body, knowledge that made him a more aware and better runner.
Is this guy a superman? Is he a little crazy? He’d say “no” to question one and a “maybe” to question two. Klibbe is incredibly grateful to be back on the road, continuing a running career that began when he was 35, and has become an important part of his life.
Epilogue: Dave Klibbe ran a 23.05 5k at the National Masters 5k Championships in Syracuse, NY in October 2014