Today was my much anticipated meeting with an orthopedic specialist. It is Achilles tendinosis as I had thought. The tendon is fine and intact and will not require surgery or even a temporary boot. That's the good news.
The bad is that cases of tendinosis are resolved in terms of months. Not days. Not weeks.
The condition is actual degeneration of the tendon in which the tendon itself becomes thicker and blood supply is reduced. The decreased blood supply stops the tendon healing, creating a vicious circle that is tricky to break. It is caused by overuse.
I think the stress I put over the winter months on the calf muscle may have been the culprit here. In 2008, I had issue with my calves and set a goal over the winter to strengthen the calf muscles. This lead to stress on the Achilles and may have introduced some microtears as well...which when I started to incorporate my speed work in early March led to the Achilles essentially saying, "enough is enough".
Treatment will include rest, over-the-counter inflammatories, and ice. It can take weeks to months of rest for the tendon to repair itself. My hardest task will be to be patient and not return too soon to the run.
The doc even brought up the "have you considered giving up running", to which I most have given him a Stare of Death as he quickly moved on.
Last resort, should my Achilles be in the same state after a few months is to try a splint, brace, walking boot, or other device that keeps the lower leg from moving.
Best thing is that although treatment for Achilles tendon problems takes time, it usually works. Most people can return to their beloved activity and get on with life.
My current plan will be to do no running for at least the next five weeks. I then hope to start with very slow and very low mileage. That plus the two weeks I've already not run since my last event will give me almost two full months of rest for the Achilles. I leave open the possibility of competing in the Lake Waconia Triathlon on June 28 with me not forcing the run at all.