chronicle of an injured runner: part 2

Part 2: Diagnosis

I ended up being out for all of April, May and June was ugly, but at least I was running. But I am jumping a head a bit. The pain in my foot really wasn’t that bad, barely noticeable. I ran on Tuesday and went to the track on Wednesday. I told my coach what had happened and he had me try a stride workout on the turf. The workout wasn’t that hard, and I was ready to run. Taking time off for the flu was not in my plan and I was eager to get back. When I finished the workout my coach asked how it felt, I told him it didn’t really hurt but I could feel it. He told me 2 days off and then I could try it out on Saturday by biking for 25 mins and running for 40 min on soft surface.

By Saturday I couldn’t feel it and started around Greenlake for a few loops. The last half mile I felt it and should have stopped. I should have taken a few more days off or biked, but I didn’t. I pretended like the last half mile hadn’t happened and set off on Sunday or a 10 miler with about 5 of it at marathon pace. I didn’t feel it at first, but could tell it was there. Panicked that the pace work felt hard and that I didn’t get the distance in I needed I made my last fatal mistake. Monday I tried to make up for the weekend and ran 12 miles in the cold and rain. By the end of my run I could tell it was getting worse, still not bad but enough that I was changing my stride, but enough to know I was in trouble. I made an appointment with the first of 2 podiatrists and emailed my coach to tell him I wouldn’t be at the track on Wednesday.

I had to wait until the end of the week for my appointment, but it was the earliest they could get me in, in the meantime I became acquainted with the IMA. Nothing like the local college’s gym to make you feel old (and I am only in my early 30’s), it really was a strange new world to me (more on that later). Still I managed to find a bike to ride. My coach had told me to bike and aqua jog, but I was still thinking this thing was going to be no big deal so I wasn’t about to set foot in a pool to run. I had only one other encounter with aqua jogging, it was in high school after my misdiagnosed ruptured appendix. I just remember being miserable, and no desire to revisit that particular experience. So that meant the bike.

The stationary bike was not an amazing experience, but I finally found the balance where I was working hard enough but still managed to read some stellar love stories (I know, lame but super easy read on the bike… and I’m not too proud to admit I enjoyed them). At this point I was still thinking I had a chance, it might not be pretty but a chance. That all changed when I met with the podiatrist.

The diagnosis: sprained joint capsule. The good news was he said I could not run a step before Boston and the try it out at the race. Um… excuse me? Is that really a good idea? Well no, but he said I could give it a try. Hold on, let’s dial the crazy down a notch… is that even a good idea? Well no he said… but he’s worked with runners and he knows how we are… well I’ve tried my hardest to not be that way. I told him to level with me, could I really run on it? And he said no, not a good idea. My coach quickly confirmed this an hour or so later.

Sure I could run my little heart out and see how it holds up, but I could do some real damage. Bottom line was the foot wasn’t going to be better in 3 weeks and I’d need to drop out if it started to hurt. Now for those of you who don’t know me let me shed some light on this idea of dropping out. 2 Boston marathons ago I ran anemic, now I didn’t know I was, but put all the pieces together on my flight to Boston (in first class, a nice flight attendant bumped me and I had plenty of time to relax and think). I knew I was in trouble by mile 5 (though I had my suspicions at mile 1). For the next 18 miles I thought about dropping out while every muscle felt like it was ripping and my pace slowed to a crawl. Around mile 23 I saw the medical tent and thought about dropping out. Ironically the week before Boston I read an article in Runners World about racing tips and one of the tips was having an exit strategy… I laughed at the idea… not so funny now. So back to mile 23, I thought this was my moment but what would I say to the medics? I’m tired and my legs hurt? Um really? You’re at mile 23 in a marathon, what exactly did you expect? So I pressed on. Clearly dropping out was not an option for this girl.

Near Heartbreak Hill, looks like I am walking, I was in so much pain.

So I took the news with a smile. After all he only said 3 to 4 weeks. My coach on the other hand thought it would be 3 months, I hate that he’s always right. So I entered this whole strange new world called cross training, which yes included aqua running.

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