Thursday, March 22, 2012

Resting the flat tire – or – footgate 2012

I obviously didn’t run the LA marathon, but I did make sure to carbo-load the day before because I love pasta and the pasta makes the sad go away. But only for so long. I woke up race morning and hobbled up to McDonald’s for an egg and cheese McGriddle but failed. It’s a long story.


Int. McDonald’s Morning

An unremarkable McDonalds except for GREG – handsome, mid 20’s, handsome - steps up to the counter to order from a smiling GRISELDA – latina in her 40’s.
                                                Could I have an Egg and cheese
                                                McGriddle, please?
She stares.
                                                An Egg and Cheese McGriddle?
Nothing. She stares through him like he is a ghost. A white ghost.
                                                Could I have a bacon egg and cheese
                                                McGriddle, please?
She snaps to action, punches keys on her touch screen.
                                                (THICK Hispanic accent)
                                                Meal or Sandwich?
                                                Meal, please.
                                                Coffee or Juice?
                                                Soda, actually. Is that ok?
                                                What kind Soda?
Even more confused, Greg turns around to obviously look at the soda machines near the tables.
                                                Dr. Pepper?
She punches more keys on the computer. He pays. She gives him an empty cup, he fills it with diet coke, smiles to himself, gets his McGriddle, leaves.

Please hold your applause until the end of this post.

So that obviously made my day start off in a very weird place. I figured since I had to cross the marathon route to get to the McDonalds, and I told a few people I’d be there that I’d stay and be there like I said.
Plus there was an annoying 40ish dude spectating who would yell at you if you tried to cross because “you’re going to mess up their strides!” which would be true if we were crossing an indoor track race, but if we can get across quickly enough so that the runners knew they wouldn’t hit us thus not altering their stride, it was a non-issue; especially when there were fifty yard gaps between runners. That guy drove me crazy and I made sure to cross twice, pretending not to know where I was going to settle down and cheer. Watching him squirm was great.

Then I got to play asshole when a darling toddler and her dad came to watch the race because they lived in the area and she just wanted to look. The problem was, we were at mile 18(ish) and they were chanting “five more miles!” which was an inconsiderate thing to do on the off chance someone wasn’t exactly aware about how wrong they were. I don’t know if I snapped or not, but I do know that I felt like shit right after I got done speaking so I went home and went back to sleep, since I planned on sleeping the afternoon away back when I had the marathon on the books.

I weighed myself Monday morning, back to the pre-training weight of 217.0 but with a higher fat % (now 23.9). I decided I had to get into something else or risk blowing up again and all the inconveniences that added weight gives me and my health both in general and acutely related to my colitis and depression. I went back to the slow carb diet and bought swim goggles. I’m sticking to the diet but still haven’t touched a pool – going to go for my first swim in years on Saturday, so look for me to get addicted to that and turn this into a swimming blog or maybe I’ll get a bike and start a triathlon blog.

Speaking of triathlon, it turns out I’ve only typed it once (now twice) in my entire life. And it’s not spelled triathAlon. My mind is blown. I’m not sure how the spelling will affect my attitude towards the sport in general, but it does feel like I was just kicked in the gut.

I finally went to the doctor again today to get results of my x-rays. After 10 days of waiting between the urgent care and the appointment with the specialist we uncovered the following truth: the X-rays weren’t exactly done right. Apparently there is a different protocol to x-ray for stress fractures than there is for normal fractures and while there were no fractures, there was insufficient indication of a stress fracture, so bottom line is: I don’t know. My foot pain decreases with rest, increases with activity, does not respond to ice, came on over an extended period of time and hurts when you apply pressure to it directly.

So naturally an orthotic will solve this problem.

What?! An orthotic? Are you mad? I got hurt because I didn’t move properly, why am I being allowed to continue to move improperly?! Why is equipment the answer? Is this equivalent to someone almost drowning in a pool and responding by prescribing them a boat? Shouldn’t I learn how to do it right? No? just pay $30-$300 and continue to do it wrong? WHAT?!

I also got a coupon for 10% off at a local shoe store. I will use this coupon to buy minimalist shoes to spite the system. I know it’s a scam because the doctor didn’t make a diagnosis, yet prescribed a catch-all cure AND gave me a coupon. Now I’m not saying my doctor is shady. I’m saying maybe the medical establishment should reconsider how they approach running. It seems to me to harken back to a bit of a snake oil science, especially considering the last time I tried orthotics and motion control shoes was because of the way my body wore down after using stability shoes and the expensive motherfuckers made me worse instantly. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

5 weeks later - or - RACE WEEK #1!

I’m quite embarrassed to check in again, 5 drama filled weeks after my last post, but here we are. The last good run I had was February 5th and it was a great run. I smashed my PR by almost 7 minutes, felt great the whole time and ran with my two [temp] converts – GF and her sister. Then I picked up the flu and was out for two weeks and my ability to run the LA Marathon was in doubt. I viewed it as my first major setback, completely ignoring the foot pain that wrecked my run on January 29th, which we’ll get back to, of course.

The flu was rough. I picked it up on a Thursday, attributing the first sign of it to post-run cigar throat soreness. I’m a comedian and I like to smoke a cigar between my Thursday post-work run and my Thursday night comedy show sometimes. The wrong cigar or if I smoke to much of it will give me a sore throat, especially if I went hard on the run earlier, which I did, so I didn’t notice I was sick until half-way through my Friday when I caught the chills and went home early.

Needless to say I didn’t run that Sunday. I did go for a walk, though, about half a mile to the store and back to get some orange juice in the hopes that getting bundled up and getting outside in the crisp night air would relieve my dizziness, which it didn’t. After the fevers went away and I could sleep again, the cough lingered for a long time. Thanks to my Ulcerative Colitis, I’m on immunosuppressors which means infections and sicknesses are more easy to catch and harder to get rid of, so while a flu might knock a normal person out for 10 days, I was hampered for 2 weeks.

2 very slow weeks because my last run was my first run in my new Merrell Road Gloves, which I had been waiting for since I had read reviews and got caught up in their hype. It was awful just staring at them knowing I wasn’t able to use them properly. Sometimes I’d put them on instead of slippers just because I was excited to have them. Mercifully my girlfriend understood or didn’t notice, so I wasn’t teased or bullied about my childlike need to play with my new toys.

My first “run” back was a hike just to get my feet back under me and it went just fine except for some pain in my left foot coming down the hill. The same pain I had towards the end of the Rose bowl half marathon and the same pain that slowed me down near the end of the Surf City half and the same one that popped up near the end of most of my long training runs and forced me to skip more than one shorter recovery run on Tuesday and even stop the Back-bay run 11 miles short of what I had planned to do that day. I dumbly thought my shoes were too tight, a likely story as it hurt right under the laces. I thought my shoes and socks were too snug to accommodate my foot as it swelled during exercise and that caused me pain. No big deal, as I had new shoes that fit better and thinner socks.

Thanks to all the flu and injuries I realized I would have to adjust my goals for the LA Marathon. I was no longer going to attempt to get through it faster than my last marathon, though that would be nice; I didn’t have the volume behind me to do something like that safely or effectively. My new goal was to just finish. By this point I had yet to acknowledge that my foot was a problem aside from mentioning the pain casually and saying I’d see a doctor after the OC marathon in May, then dropping a “something’s broken in there,” laughing and moving on. In my head I sounded like a total badass. In their heads I was an idiot.

But I only live in my head, so my awesome self hatched a new plan. I had 3 weeks before the marathon. I would go for 20 miles on schedule. If I made it, great, I’m ready to run the marathon. If not, no worries, I would just trim my taper to 1 week and go for it again the following Sunday. I did not make it. My morning run turned into an afternoon run thanks to the ole’ rumbly in my tumbly and it was warmer than I thought it’d be. I started feeling tired around mile 11 and barely made it to 16 before run-walking three more and calling it quits. I decided run-walking was an effective strategy and comforted myself in knowing that if worse came to worst, I’d still roll through the finish line and grab that finisher’s medal, knowing full well I’d not given my all, but still somehow pulling it together to just get it done, setting the bar low for 2013.

The next week was the same except it was 80 degrees by mile 9 and there is no shade on the beach, where I run because I can and it’s amazing. Plus there are tons of public restrooms and drinking fountains. It took me 4 hours, but I finished. It felt great: 20 miles done despite all the setbacks I had (still not acknowledging the nagging pain in my left foot as a thing).

Do you see where this is going? I didn’t. Call it a mix of confirmation bias and hindsight, but I should have sought medical attention at the first or second incidents of pain instead of toughing it out because I had already signed up and paid for a bunch of races and didn’t want the doctors to tell me the dreaded truth: this is an injury that needs attention and that attention will be at the expense of running. I ignored it.

I ignored it and now I can’t run. Hell, I can hardly walk. Would have been nice if it held out for another week, but it didn’t. I took a 9 mile spin down in San Clemente this Sunday morning. Usually in the two days leading up to the long run, any pain in the foot goes away, but this time it didn’t.  I took some Excedrin and headed out the door and a snail’s pace. The pills worked until about mile 5 when the pain overtook them and every step was slightly worse than the last. At mile 8 I left the cement / asphalt in lieu of the soft sand which only helped a bit, then I started running in the cold water which helped a bit more, but by the end I was definitely limping. I took my shoes off and waded into the water for a little pseudo ice bath. It didn’t help. I limped up the hill back to the condo where I stayed and haven’t taken an honest step since.

It was so bad that I went to urgent care and they took X-rays and now I’m waiting. If there’s no pain in it by Saturday, and the doctors haven’t told me no, I will be running the LA Marathon. I say that and I know I sound like an idiot, but I also know that it’s a non-issue and it won’t not hurt so I’ll never have to prove how badass I am, and instead can take some lessons away from this debacle. Lessons I already knew but didn’t believe such as establishing a base of fitness when starting a barefoot / minimal running regimen and if you ignore that gem then at least listen to your body when it screams STOP! Also, I’ll wait a bit longer to sign up for races and definitely hold off on multiple races in quick succession to avoid the domino effect that I’m about to ride out.

At least now I’ll have time to get back to trying to sell a TV pilot and won’t have an excuse not to get back to my slow-carb weight loss goal, both of which conflicted heavily with running 9 hours a week and working full time. I’ve never been the silver lining guy. I hate not running already.