For the past few weeks, my left foot has really hurt.
You know how this goes. You feel a twinge, you stretch it, you ice it, you roll it, you rub it. You do everything but leave it alone because that would make too much sense, that might actually work. But somehow you feel that poking it, prodding it, pulling at it would help even more.
But it doesn’t.
This past week, my left foot has really been fired up. I spent the first few days pitying myself. Dreams of Ironman squashed by a bum foot leaving me on the sidelines cheering my husband all the way across the line. There I stood, on the side Alii Drive wearing a grass skirt, holding a fruity drink, and limping my way up and down the street with a supportive boot and an unsupportive that should have been me scowl.
After a few days of pity, I settled into defeat. Season-ending injury, a slow fizzle to a fast start. Might as well just board the baby wagon because this body was going nowhere fast very soon.
Then, in a desperate attempt to make peace with myself, I tried optimism on for size. We’ll do intervals on the elliptical, long runs in the deep well. We’ll visualize running and it will count as the real thing.
But optimism really didn’t fit. It’s all a bunch of horsepucky anyways because all you really want to do is run, and bike, and push off the wall without pain, without the fear of pain, suffering, and injury in the back of your mind each mile you push further, each lap you swim farther. And after awhile it’s not the physical pain that wears you down, it’s the mental anguish, the agony of the unknown, not sure, is it or isn’t it, the waiting until it either goes away or goes all wrong.
Oddly enough, it actually didn’t hurt to run. Imagine that. A most ironic injury – an injury that begs for you to run, and the faster I ran, the less it hurt. This is some evil twisted Ironman training trick for sure.
Regardless, last week the pain peaked. I was convinced it was the end before my foot just finally fell off. But first, a ten mile trail running race on Saturday. Yes, yes, that’s exactly what the foot would need.
Surprinsgly, there was no pain. The foot felt great. I was fast, and strong, and knocked off 10 hilly miles like the foot had never gone wrong. And the next day during a 100 mile ride, no pain again.
But Monday – different story. The pain was back, and it was pissed. And it didn’t go away.
Laying there, Wednesday night, with a bag of frozen mango chunks on my foot, I decided it was finally time to see the foot doctor. And Chris agreed. After all, he was tired of hearing my worry and woes about my foot, my broken foot, my fractured foot, my plantar fascitis foot, my heel spurred foot, my foot this, my foot that, my husband was about to plant his left foot square in my ass.
Thursday, I sat in the podiatrist’s office waiting with one sock off.
“What’s going on, Elizabeth?” he asked, walking in and looking at my forlorn little foot.
“I think I fractured my left foot,” I said, woeful and worried.
There it hung off the table, a fraction of the foot it used to be. I was convinced – it was the injury that would seal this runner’s fate – the stress fracture in the foot. I kept poking, pushing on the tendons around the bone. I was sure it was right there, right at that very point, just like in all the diagrams, articles, horror stories, painful cries that I had read online or heard about before.
The podiatrist poked around my foot, pulling, pushing while I lamented on about the symptoms that had me convinced I was losing my foot one bone at a time.
He then began asking me questions about my current training and racing. I told him I was training for Ironman which immediaetly delighted him and convinced him that not swimming, biking, or running was not a choice.
Wait, what? Are you a doctor? Or are you god? Has my husband paid you to tell me things – nice things, untrue things to get me to just shut up about the foot already? Because there is no way possible that I should keep swimming, biking, running on this foot. What if I do permament damage? What if it just falls off? Just gives up, quits, walks right out the door.
After a few minutes, the doctor sat there holding my foot in his hand.
“Elizabeth, can you still train?” he asked.
“Did you run yesterday?”
“Did you run hard?”
“Are your times getting any slower?”
“Then you didn’t fracture your foot.”
“But don’t you think I might have?” I asked, pointing to the pain again.
“Not even the start of one?”
“Not even a little bit of one?”
He put my foot down.
“You need to go run.” (which is actually doctor code for: I will say anything to get crazy triathlon obsessed girl out of this office NOW screw the fee, burn her file).
But wait. I need to go run? Who are you and what have you done with the real doctor? You mean, my foot is not falling off, not breaking into pieces? You mean I can run? I should run? I have to run? This is the best news I’ve heard all week. Heck I want to skip right out of this office and do a 2 hour run right now.
He explained that I just had a contusion in my arch, probably from riding my cyclocross bike downtown in nothing but flip flops with speedplay pedals. Not the best thing for the flimsy foot. It was bruised, a little angry, but not the season-ended injury I was looking for. But what he was saying – well that was exactly what I was looking to hear.
“And I don’t want to see you again until after Ironman,” he said as I walked towards the door.
With that, I handed over the fee which even if it had been a hundred dollars it priceless to me and worth every cent to get doctor’s orders to regain my set of two fully functional happy feet.