YIKES! (No, that’s not my foot. Jeez, people.)
I know you’ve all been on the edge of your collective seats just sick with worry. As crabby and reluctant as I had been to admit it for 10 months (TEN MONTHS), I was trying to push through an injury that just wouldn’t go away. I mean, it wasn’t something groovy or impressive like a stress fracture, muscle tear, or even my now-world-famous GROIN injury. It wasn’t something I could show off with crutches or with one of those ridiculously over-poofed walking casts. It was (good grief) plantar fasciitis.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of PF, I think of old fat people wearing mauve fanny packs and sensible mud-brown walking shoes. I think of the inane jingle for The Good Feet Store. I envision Early Bird Dinner Specials and reruns of Matlock and Flipper. I know that runners get PF, but I’ve always thought of it as a Wah! Wah! Oh Boo Hoo! sort of ailment that the same kind of whiners who freak out over black toenails get. It wasn’t a real injury.
So, when the PF started rearing its horns way back in, oh, November of 2010, I was all, “Whatever, stupid PF!!” I kept on running and remarking cheerily about the novelty of being unable to step directly on my left heel when I stood up in the morning. By January, I was submerged in the final weeks of training for the Birmingham Mercedes Marathon, so any pain short of a multiple compound fracture was tossed aside with a haughty snort. (That sounds pretty unattractive, actually.) And when I had to roll myself into the bathroom in a desk chair the morning after the marathon, I thought I was a real laugh riot.
I laughed right on through training to pace the Country Music Marathon and had a particularly good chortle when, after sitting down following the marathon, I couldn’t stand back up without Cheryl’s help. Then I could barely walk the rest of the day. Hilarious!
The amusement began growing thin mid-summer when I found that even easy runs made it hard to walk after sitting down for a while. Standing up in the morning was becoming a major and embarrassingly blundering undertaking. Even the cats began gingerly backing away from me when they noticed I was attempting to stand up and take a step. Finally, it began hurting while running. Then my race times began falling off. I stretched, iced, rolled, freaked, prayed, and whined. Nothing helped. In early August, I said, “Well, fuck. Maybe I’m really injured.”
I ran one more 5k in a compellingly dull time of 22:51, hopped around on one foot afterwards, and decided to take a break. I mean, 5 days off should do it, right? Wrong. Particularly when your first run back is a mildly jaunty 10-miler. Anything I might have healed, snapped and over-extended itself into an oblivion of tatters. But it had been years, decades really, since I had taken off more than 7 days for an injury. This couldn’t be happening. Or, rather, I wouldn’t believe it was happening. I trotted right out and did some relatively angry intervals two days later.
The very next day, I couldn’t run at all. I mean, AT ALL. I tried to do a Death Jog, and even that was too painful. I attempted the humiliating old lady 4:1 (or whatever the hell it’s called) and nearly stumbled. I walked. I stopped. I stomped. I was majorly pissed and just a bit panicked. Why hadn’t this gone away? What if it never went away? I progressed from “I’m ignoring my injury,” to “I’ll never run again” in about 50 seconds. I’m pretty sure that’s a PR.
What to do? Would I actually have to do something shameful and horrifying like not run for a couple of weeks? Would I careen zombie-like into the morass of general forums on running sites and publicly discuss the arch of my foot? Would night terrors of superior masters runners chanting, “Loser! Loser! Ha Ha, Old Hag!” haunt my restless sleep?
Stay tuned for the next absorbing segment of this injury docudrama: “My Life as a Pin Cushion!”