Work It Out Wednesday: New Hope and Old Demons

“You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have…” today’s post (and lingering images of Jo and Tootie.  Was anyone else annoyed by Tootie like I was?  She was so darn annoying).  I have both good news and bad to report…

Always start with the good, I say!  TiffeeG made it through her first Remicade session.  As it turns out, they treat the patients in a small room lined up right next to each other with no room for anyone else, so Mitch had to sit out in the waiting room…entertainment enough for Tiff and me, since Mitchie “doesn’t do” sick people and was in misery out there surrounded by the old and infirm.

The nurse kicked things off with a lovely warning that if her throat started to close up, she should signal immediately.  Um, sure.  Great.  You can pretty much count on that, lady! I got a great text from her partway through…she got stuck sitting next to a woman who kept bragging that she had spent 8k on a custom-built machine gun and shotgun and ranting about the guy in Florida who chewed the homeless man’s face off.  This is not really a conversation that TiffeeG cares to engage in anytime, and even less so while she’s focused on making sure she’s not starting to choke. Weapons, choking and face mauling aside, she got through the session like a champ, and the nurse complimented her on how well she did, then told her that the next treatment is “a real doozy”.  Such encouraging parting words!

The effects hit her a few hours later and gave her a bad headache and generally yucky feeling, but she managed just fine and is doing okay this morning.  We both signed up for Snapchat in the afternoon, so I photobombed her throughout the evening to make her laugh. I will keep praying and visualizing good things for this medicine!

On to the crapper…the running side of things.  In my first post on this blog, I mentioned that I practically have my own wing at the podiatrist’s office for my plantar fasciitis.  For those unfamiliar with PF, it is inflammation in the tissue connecting the heel to the toes, creating the arches in our feet.  This tissue doesn’t get a lot of blood flow, which is vital for recovery, so when it gets injured it can take forever to heal.

When I experienced PF for the first time, I had just finished my first half marathon (which I described in a previous post).  I had all the classic symptoms…pain deep in the heel, especially when I first stepped out of bed.  I would take one step with the good foot and then step down on the other and almost fall down from the sharp pain shooting up my heel.  The pain got better as I moved around, and it felt great after runs (because the tissue loosened up during, only to tighten back up after).  So of course I kept running, thinking it was maybe helping and refusing to face facts (let’s not forget that I’m the idiot who continued to eat pumpkin and flax seed cereal before runs yet couldn’t figure out why my stomach got so upset!).

Sooo, yeah–I ended up almost not being able to walk.  I had PF in both feet.  As anyone who has experienced this dreaded runner’s injury knows, the problem is in the arch, but the pain is all in the heel…deep, catch your breath as the sensation drives right up your heel and into your foot kind of pain.  I’ll keep it short, but for runners who might be interested, I went through physical therapy, over-the-counter arch inserts, two cortisone shots, six months of ZERO exercise (not even weights) and a fair amount of time in the big black boot before finally getting things straightened out with custom orthotics that were made from a mold of my feet.

The problem is that I have high arches.  See?             orthoticpic There’s just not enough support for the impact of running.  My orthotics help alleviate the strain, and I am never without shoes on my feet.  I don’t step out of bed without sliding right into my supportive Nike flip-flops.  I stretch religiously pre-runs.  I stretch post-run.  I wake up in the morning, stick my legs straight up in the air and do my stretches I learned in PT before rolling out of the rack (it gives HH a good laugh).  I wear my running shoes around constantly so that I can have my orthotics on, and I avoid wearing heels or ballet shoes/flats.

I’ve been good for almost five years now.  I have occasional pain, but it’s manageable (I have bone spurs in both my heels caused by the long-term inflammation, so I feel those, but I just deal with it and keep on trekking).  I’ve been really worried about how my feet would hold up through marathon training, so I met with my podiatrist recently to go over things.  She told me that there have been some new advances since my last trip to her and prescribed a cream to use when I start to feel pain.  It includes a topical anti-inflammatory and some medicine to increase blood flow to the area.

So yesterday I was scheduled to run 6 miles at goal pace (around 9:30).  I wasn’t expecting any issues, since I’ve been running too close to goal pace effortlessly for months now, but things seemed to be off from the minute I got up.  I hadn’t slept well…worried about TiffeeG probably, and HH was out of town.  I woke up feeling dehydrated, which seemed ridiculous since I am guzzling water constantly.  I ran my first half-mile feeling like I was at pace, then my app popped in (I use Runkeeper) and said I was running a 9:51.  I tried to speed up just a little, and then realized I was running at 8:25.  I had no sense of pace!

I evened out a little, but I was just low energy throughout the run.  I wasn’t unable to do it, I just knew that it was kind of a bonk and taking more determination than it should to finish.  I told myself that it was just good practice for what race day will feel like  when I have to push through and find my focus.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal…not every run will feel like dashing through the tulips on a sunny spring day, and there was nothing wrong with me, so suck it up, right? I finished with a 9:15 average, which was perfectly fine…but I had been all over the place.

I chalked it up to a bad run, but started cursing when I got home and realized that my left heel was starting to ache.  I broke out my trusty frozen water bottles, iced both arches and applied the prescription cream.

My mom came into town, and the boys and I had a nice evening with her.  My oldest son Alex went to bed not feeling well, which was a concern.  HH got back into town at midnight from his business trip, and just as we fell asleep, here came Alex puking with the flu.  As I hopped out of bed to go help him, I almost fell down from the pain shooting up into my heel.  I hobbled down to his room, got him set for his miserable night (water, trash bags, paper towels) and limped back into bed.

I wanted to cry.  I felt so discouraged.  Here it is January, I haven’t even crossed the 10-mile long run mark (a distance I’ve run many times with no problem), and I’m already hobbling?  I suddenly felt like I had no choice but to quit.  I want to be a lifelong runner, not just a few-times racer, and I sooo do not want to go back to the days of no running and clanking around in a boot.  I lay awake for hours with my mind wandering in a kind of half-awake half-dozing kind of delirious mental slurry, pondering my running fate in the obsessive way that is part of my personality.  I know there would be far worse things than me having to stop training, after all, but I don’t want to disappoint myself.

I got up this morning with a modest amount of pain, which improved as I moved around and the tissue loosened up.  As HH was eating breakfast, he asked me what I was running today, and I told him what had happened yesterday and asked him what this maybe marathoner should do.

As usual, he kept it simple and didn’t overanalyze it.  “You made a commitment,” he said, and I know he meant to myself as well as to this blog and my fundraising (the man knows me).

“You run until you’re either in the boot or at the race.”

And that did it.  I agree with him.  I will be a lifelong runner.  Dammit, I’m a good runner too.  I just have screwed-up feet.  I ran this morning, but did 2 miles instead of 3 to take it easy.  I kept my route flat and my pace nice and slow at 10:07.  I iced, I applied my cream, and above all, I’m keeping it in perspective.

I’m not fighting Ankylosing Spondylitis.  I’m not dealing with anything of any real consequence.  To whine or spend too much time fearing that I won’t be able to run my planned marathon is a joke.  I will press on and see where the days and the runs take me…and as I’ve always said, each run is a gift.

The quick two miles felt fantastic (once my arch loosened up a little).  I listened to one of my favorite slow run songs to help keep me running slow…my Work It Out Wednesday song…”Fix You” by Coldplay.

I have a day off tomorrow, and then I will tackle 11 miles on Friday.  Fingers crossed, but not praying…I am saving my prayers for the things that really matter.

Feet don’t fail me now!







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