Plant What?

Okay, okay.  My blog is no longer about preparing for my 1st marathon. Now it’s just a blog, somewhat related to the experience of running – the ups, downs, starts and…stops.

You may recall that my first blog entry last summer was pretty lame. I went on and on about the marathon registration as a surrender to the peer pressure of my very fit and persuasive friends, Janet and Margaret.  I said that I had never even really enjoyed running, and how I just did it to stay in shape as time allowed, that I had no shame in being slow, and that I had no burning desire to get faster. At the time, I just wanted to finish the marathon.

As I was packing in the mileage and suffering the  heat of China, the long weekend runs, the ice baths, the sore feet and ankles, the hunger, the fatigue, I was also amazing myself with what my body could do.

When the marathon was over, I kept running – lightly. At first I said it was to keep from getting stiff. Then I said it was to keep the fitness I had gained.

As it turns out, I LIKE RUNNING.  After all that work, I’m fit enough to put on my kicks and pound out a 5-8 miler without feeling wrecked for the rest of the day. I like the fresh air. I like the exercise. I like the alone time and I like the company of my running friends when I can join them.  I like the goals I put in place each time I set out.

I embraced this revelation and  signed up for a February 10 mile race with Janet.

And now… I am sidelined completely.   Keep in mind, I made it through 4 months of training without any major injury. Sure, I had tendonitis, my feet hurt, I endured some seriously nasty physical therapy. But I walked away from the finish line right into an ice bath and then right back to my regular life. No injuries.

Now… I have a very painful condition common to runners. (Insert sound of thunder here) – PLANTAR FASCIITIS – (Close with thunder claps.)   My right heel hurt so much that it kept me up at night, I couldn’t walk, sit, or stand comfortably. I was downing Advil tabs like they were Sweet Tarts.

These pictures show what is wrong: plantar photo 2 plantar photo

I went to see Dusty. A big a hello from him, a high five for my marathon, and then… a sad slow shake of the head as he dealt with my foot.  Plantar fasciitis is a beast. A mean, gripping inflammation of the tight fascia from heel to toe. The treatment? REST.  Ice,heat, tape.  And REST.  The arc trainer and elliptical are out – they still strain fascia. Swimming is allowed, but I don’t swim. ( I can swim. As in, I can stay alive if I fall in the water, but I am not a swimmer.)

So I hit the rowing machine. In the gym, I ran into a friend who last saw me before the marathon. He asked me how I was doing but before I answered, he said, “Well,you must be injured because nobody rows unless they have to.”  J

Fortunately,  the machine has a game mode where every pull of the “oar” throws an electronic  dart at target on the screen in front me… if I have good form, I get a bulls-eye and 50 points. So, at least I have something to concentrate on as I row to nowhere in the basement of the gym.

Here is a picture of what the game looks like: dart game

But it’s not outside, It’s not with my friends. And it’s not… running.

I am in San Diego, CA for meetings. Right now, Maine, (where I live) is in the grips of an astonishing deep freeze, the Polar Vortex. We haven’t been able to get warm for weeks.  I knew this trip was on the calendar and I was dreaming of putting on shorts, my shoes, and running in 70 degrees.

I’m not at all complaining about being in California. Not at all. I am just sorry that I can’t even enjoy outdoor exercise that doesn’t require 35 layers of frostbite protection.  This is the bike path outside my hotel room – 65 degrees and calling for me.


But, the treatment plans for plantar fasciitis are pretty consistent –  and they all focus on rest.  (Trust me, I’ve Googled it, looking for some study somewhere that would justify light running during recovery. There isn’t one like that.)

Now that I know I like this activity, I will be good about what it takes to get better. I’ll have to miss the 10 miler, and probably the 20 miler that Janet is determined to get me to do in May. But, I will get back out on the road at some point. In the meantime, I’ll focus on what’s allowed.

20 miles? Check. Body Back-talk? Check.

Janet and I ran 20 miles today. Actually, 20.11 miles. (Ann Marie – the .11 part was for you. 🙂 )

It’s fair to say that we both felt substantially challenged. Substantially. But we had some things going for us to help us through:

1. we had each other

2. the weather was bee-u-tee-ful!

3. we had a pretty, quiet, route that had good water views during miles 8.5-11.5

4. we were determined to hit 20 miles

It’s a good we had those things in our favor because our bodies got a little sassy with the back-talk. Whining, complaining, and threats to shut down even though our brains were good for the full 20.

For example, my feet started in with a mild, “We’re hurting, please stop“. I replied, “I understand, but it’s mile 8 and you’ve got 12 more miles to hit the pavement. Hang in there.

Janet is more conditioned to long mileage, so her body was a little more patient before lodging the first complaint, but somewhere around mile 11, Janet’s legs demanded attention and rest, but she said “NO” and kept going. We stopped at mile 12 to refill water, hoping that the 30 second stop would trick our bodies into having “rested” and get back into gear. In gear? Yes. But not with the get-it-done spirit we needed.

At around mile 15, Janet’s hip went from trying to get her attention to an arms-crossed-shouting-door-slamming demand to be heard. I could tell she was hurting since I usually run behind her and could see a small hitch in her giddyup, if you know what I mean. I asked if she was OK, and to my surprise, she said, “Not really. I’m going to walk.” Janet is a Power Ranger Runner – she pushes herself with tremendous determination- so if her hip was winning the showdown, I knew it must really be hurting her. We walked about 50 feet. I think in those moments, she had a solid, firm, conference with that hip of hers because she picked up the pace and we were running again.

Of course, the break gave my body the signal it needed to speak up. And my feet were back with a much louder, less gentle chorus of “CUT. IT. OUT. We hurt. Stop pounding us. STOP IT!” But, with only a few miles left, this was no time for me to get soft. “Shut up,” I said, “No more whining. Almost there.” Feet were not satisfied. “STOP!” they yelled. “I can’t hear you,” I taunted. But, I could hear my feet. My feet were killing me. I tried to tune out their relentless yelling at mile 18 by turning my mantra back on, “I am strong, I am ready, I am strong” but it hurt so much, that it came out more like, “I am – ow – I am – I – SHIT – I am STRONG – Damn. Damn. I am – I am – gasp – I am – I am strong – I – G*ddamn– I am strong” and so forth. But, the swearing did help my attitude in a weird way. It made me aggressive and it was just what I needed to keep moving through the 20 mile mark.

As for Janet – I don’t what kind of words she laid out on her hip, but it surrendered and supported her through to the 20 miles.

We reached the parking lot. Sat down. High-fived. We admired ourselves and each other for finishing.

Janet had 45 minutes before she had to report to work. She promptly put on compression socks and probably employed a bunch of other post-run care techniques that she has. I had to go home and shovel out the barn. Then, I sat in the tub with ice. Just so you know I’m not making that up, here are pictures to prove it:

IMG_1680 IMG_1681

So, the run was over, I’d iced, showered, put on clean clothes. I’d torched about 2,000 calories before 10 a.m., so I knew I needed to eat some serious food, but my body was NOT interested. Evidently, my body can hold a grudge, so the arguing was not over when the run was over. This time, it was my digestive system dialing in with some attitude. It seems that if you abuse every working part of your physical being by making it run for 3.5 hours, it would rather just be left alone for a good long sulk. I searched the cabinet for food that would wake up my hunger signals. “Waffle with peanut butter?,” I offered. “Don’t even,” my body replied. “Yogurt with cherry?,” I coaxed. “NO.” Okay, then, I thought. Fine. I won’t pursue. Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll fill you up.

You know when my body decided to make up with me? 4:30 PM. And then, everything was fair game. I ate cookies while I made scrambled eggs. Soon after, I had to attend a work dinner and my hunger was full speed by the time we sat down at 6. For everyone at my table, I provided an astonishing display of consumption. If it was food, it went down the hatch and I was not bashful about seconds. I was eating with people who had never met me before but I was too hungry to be embarrassed or even explain or even really make much conversation. (Not my best professional showing, probably.)

We ran 20 miles and even if with our pains, we had negative splits for the middle miles, with an overall pace right where we had planned at the start. Pretty victorious feeling, I must say.
TEAM UPDATE: Margaret is laser focused on getting ready for this marathon and had a 15 miler planned for this morning. Margaret is a very strong athlete and maybe the only person I know who could endure surgery less than a month ago and head out for that kind of mileage by now. Pretty amazing. Janet, as you know, ran 20 miles today, but she ALSO ran 19.5 miles last weekend, never mind her training runs throughout the week. A BOSS. I’m not sure what Margaret’s plan is for next weekend, but Janet is running a 1/2 marathon. (Isn’t it crazy that the 13.1 miler is her cut-back distance? Damn.) I’m traveling this week, hoping to get in a few 4-5 mile runs and then a longer one on my own next weekend.