I know it's difficult for some to understand my procrastination seeking the advice of a foot specialist for my continuous nagging heel concerns....but I had my reasons, logical or not, and did what I had to do.
But last Friday, I did it - I sought the expertise of a podiatrist. And not any ole podiatrist I randomly picked out of the yellow pages (done that before), no I saw one who is a mega ultra runner (is that an oxymoron? Aren't all ultra runners "mega" runners? The sentence made me laugh.); he is a friend of the XC coach I work/run with, who has done many ultra races, including the infamous Leadville 100 miler - a race I consider personally to be the epitome of all 100-mile endurance challenge races.
So I figured this guy would understand how important this running job of mine meant to me; he'd understand my pleas to get me bandaged up and back out on the roads again - feeling well. Like yesterday :).
I've seen doctors who don't fully understand this. My favorite line of all from one of these highly educated white-coat people was, "You need to stop running or you will die" - after I landed in the hospital due to a severe case of dehydration. Plain and simple - I WOULD DIE if I continued to run. No negotiations like: be certain I drank more water, make sure I got in some electrolytes.... nope, it was die or nothing. I kept running, drank more water, I still have a pulse.
Anyway, a couple x-rays later, a lot of conversations (about running, of course): no stress fracture and no heel spur (well, I do have a small one which he said has been there 20-25 years and was in no way affecting this current issues at hand). What I have, and which I had basically came to the same WebMD conclusion a few weeks ago, is I have a very severe case of Plantar Faciitis (this dumb heel thing has changed symptoms at least 20 times since it's mission to take me down. Certainly had me on my toes trying to self-diagnosis - literally. Bahahaah).
Though those two words - Plantar Faciitis - are not exactly ideal in terms of treating this bugger; but I can't stress how just the mere fact I received an answer - an official diagnosis from someone with more than on online degree - eased my mind. At least from here when I Google symptoms of my heel, I can Google the correct problem. That's got to save me at least 13-hours/day in wasted cyber-browsing (and now can turn that attention towards more boot shopping).
There is no easy magical wand-waving solution here, as there never is, and I get that. One of my co-workers told me as I headed out of work early for my appointment and told her how nervous I was, that she was afraid I was going in with high expectations and was surely going to be disappointed when I walked out without a magical fix. No, I had no expectations - I merely wanted an answer as to what it was ... and ok, secretly hoped I would be told I could keep running, even if was painful.
I got my diagnosis. I was told I could run. Mission accomplished.
Will the pain every go away? There's a high probability not. I walked out with a cortisone shot, the bottom of my foot wrapped in so much tape it can barely move, told not to run for 3 days, keep my foot dry so the tape won't come off (I'll take any excuse for a long, leisurely bubble bath - see pic above) and come back in two weeks to discuss any progress, where we'll then discuss where to go from there.
But I have an answer. And I can run. The two things I was seeking. Will I be able to run at the level I once did? Will I be able to train at the capacity to run the once love-of-my life road marathons again? I honestly don't know, and I am slowly becoming at peace with that. I can't help but wonder if I’ve come to a crossroads, replacing old habits of marathon finish lines for things of new running adventures. Is something else out there my new way of victory? I almost find my heart leaning in this direction.
It can be overwhelming in the face of all that needs to be done, to consider what we really want to do. I’ve gotten so wrapped up in race times and placements and PR’ing that I haven’t taken the time to explore other things I love equally well. That's why instead of thinking about what I have to do, I am going to try to shift my perspective and consider what I want to explore more of. It’s going to make me a stronger, better runner, I think. If we aren't paying attention, the way we fill our time defines who we are by default. Awkkkk!
I'm not going to give up the fight - I was told I could run so I will train around whatever the heel deals me. I'm excited to test a new adventure, starting with a race I signed up for on Monday: Skyline to Sea Trail Marathon on April 10th in Northern Cali. A trail marathon – something I’ve never done before. I have no pressure to PR. There is no illustrious finish line time dangling out there for me to obsess over. Heck, I may have to walk most of it, it's not like I'm in pristine running shape right now and I know there is no humanly way I will be by race day, but it's a starting point for which to get some answers: how well will my heel hold up for training - and during the race, will my mind really be at ease with this slower-than-ever pace I've been forced to employ, will I enjoy the trails and the small crowds, will I miss the hype of big-time marathons I once so loved, and a hundred more question..... yes, I want to train well no matter what I run or race, but there's something which seems inviting to me right now, at least until I can test out the heel for awhile, and that's to take my running to places I've never gone before - and I can't wait to find out what that may be.So come and join me and Kovas, Chris K., Patrick, and Kate, if you can, as we seek new adventures in our lives. Heck, even my podiatrist is even going to be there running, believe it or not (how cool is that??)....I'm hoping he has his magic wand handy just in case the heel decides to rear its ugly head – the one he forgot to use on me Friday. It’d be so fun if you can join us but if you can't, don’t forget about the adventure that lies in all our running and racing hearts and set out to find your own. After all, isn’t that what started this journey for you in the first place – Adventure?
I have my answer, I have some things to see if it helps the heel pain (or not) – but I’m not going to give up and will try to not let it take me down. I have a little race to get ready for, let's get this game rolling - move over Plantar Faciitis I'm ready!!
Weekly running miles: 16 (very low due to the fact I was forced to take the past 3 days off)
Total 2011 miles: 89.1
Monday: Swam 1550 yds, lower body and core wt training
Tuesday: 5.5 miles SICs
Wednesday: 6.5 miles run total. 2 miles wu + upper body wt training. 4.5 miles at MP later in the evening.
Thursday: 4 miles progression run
Friday: Off (podiatrist induced rest day)
Saturday: 34 miles on le bike. Yes, that's right, I rode the stationary bike for 2 hours 4 minutes. My butt will never be the same - but I got some good reading done!
Sunday: 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer; full body wt training