Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So here's the deal.

Remember that swollen, tender spot on my left tibia I mentioned a few weeks ago?

Remember how I cut my 16 mile long run short because it was sort of reaching yellow-flag levels of uncomfortable, but then it was fine the rest of the week, and it was fine through my 22 mile long run?

So, the day after that run (8/3), it felt a little tender, but no worse than when I've had shin splints flare up in the past around peak mileage weeks. I was walking fine & went to karate that night as usual. After running a few kata, though, it started to feel more and more uncomfortable, so I sat out the last 15 minutes or so.

The next day (8/4) I had a big track workout, but since I was traveling in the evening I couldn't go to SF Track Club as usual at Kezar. I could have done it during the day before heading to the airport, but the leg still didn't feel quite right, so I decided I'd give it a few more hours of rest & then maybe do it on the treadmill once I got to my hotel. Except, then my flight was delayed so I didn't get to my hotel until 10pm, and since I had a 6:00 am wake up call & hadn't eaten in like seven hours, I definitely did not get on a treadmill. Which I figured was probably for the best; my leg would get an extra day of rest & then I could do the workout on Wednesday.

Well. Wednesday evening (8/5) I got on the treadmill, and less than one minute into the warm-up got a big giant NOPE from my left tibia. It hurt. A lot. In a way that was uncomfortably familiar.

So I thought I'd give it a few more days & see how it felt. The spot on my tibia was kind of diffuse and not particularly painful to touch (it felt more like a large bruise), so I wasn't too worried about it yet.

Well, it didn't get better, even with complete rest. Instead, over the course of my work trip that week, it gradually got worse until even walking on it was quite painful and once or twice I legitimately thought about seeing if I could find some drugstore crutches somewhere just so I didn't make it worse. This is when I started to actually worry.

Also, why am I always alone in a hotel room when things like this happen?

From that point on, there was no question of trying to run on it. After a few days of resting it at home (~8/9ish), it started to feel much better, though by "much better," I mean "could technically walk on it, if I had to, with only a little pain."

Just based on how it felt at this point and how the pain presented (significantly better in the morning, worse by the end of the day), I was pretty sure I had a stress reaction & if I had tried to run on it, I probably could have turned it into a full-on stress fracture pretty easily. Because of where it is & how it feels with bearing weight in different ways, I'm 99% sure it's a result of trying to fix the issue with my left arch, & for all intents & purposes a part of my leg that has gotten away for a long time without doing much was suddenly thrown right into the middle of marathon training. It had been feeling better for a while so I'd gradually weaned myself off of taping up my foot; now I'm not sure that was such a hot idea. (Then again, it's also probably not the sole factor here, either.)

Now, with a stress reaction in a low-risk area (ie, low-risk for complications/nonunion, which tibia is), it is possible to recover with 2-3 weeks off running and then be able to run again, so at that point that's the medical factoid I was clinging to. (Nevermind, of course, that those 2-3 weeks are supposed to be followed by a "sensible return-to-running plan," not a goal marathon. I figured I'd burn that bridge when I came to it.)

I emailed with Coaches Tom & Ashley to let them know what was up, because my concern was that if I hadn't run at all in the 3 weeks prior to the race that it wouldn't even be worth starting, even if my leg was 100% better. They reminded me, though, just how little effect anything you do in those last three weeks has on race day compared to everything that came before, and if I was able to cross train some, it wasn't likely to affect my performance much. At that point (8/10) the plan was to get some cross training in & then see how things felt the following weekend.

And it definitely did improve pretty dramatically. I got some elliptical in instead of running, & by the end of last week (8/14) I was walking completely normally with no pain. I even jogged a few steps up & down the hall, which felt fine. I've been continuing to do my arch exercises, and there is a little pain in the bone with those in the same spot, but it doesn't linger, which is something.

So, we re-evaluated this weekend in terms of the options, which were pretty much 1) start & see how it feels, 2) drop to the half, or 3) don't run. Well, there's no space in the half at this point, so option 2) is out (also 8/1 was the deadline for switching anyway). After some back and forth, the recommendation from Tom & Ashley was to let this one go, get 100% healthy, & run CIM in December instead. The bottom line is that I want an A+ race, and even if I were able to start and even finish, that's looking pretty unlikely.

Obviously, I'm disappointed. Not utterly crushed the way I might have been if this had been a sudden thing (it's funny how two weeks of fretting lets you ease into the possibility), but still pretty bummed that this will be the second time in a row I've paid for this race, driven up to collect swag for it, & gone home without crossing the line.

But...I'm handling it. Okay, I *might* have needed a day to mope around in my pajamas & drink wine, but there's been no gnashing of teeth or rending of garments or throwing of crockery. No ugly-crying.

Part of the process has been making a list of reasons in my head (and, apparently, on the internet) of why not starting is for the best, even though it sucks massive donkey balls:

  • Sometimes I don't make good decisions. Yes, it's possible I could start the marathon, and everything could be fine. But it's also possible I could get to mile 22, realize things are Not Good, but be too amped up/dehydrated/emotionally unstable to do the rational thing and quit. (This is why I quit SRM at mile 14 last year. I could have gone farther but the hip was just getting worse, and I knew the closer I got to the finish, the harder it would be to quit.)
  • I want to go all-out at my next marathon. Even if my leg were feeling much better, it's still unlikely that I'd be able to give my absolute best effort on Sunday. I'd be thinking about the leg and paying attention to whether it hurts and how much and how bad I should let it get before I quit instead of focusing on my race. For a while I was kind of thinking, "Eh, if it feels okay, I could just aim to finish," except no. I have zero interest right now in running a marathon "just to finish." I would rather wait until I'm ready to kill it.
  • It leaves me well positioned for CIM. The rest of "I'll just try to finish" was "and then run CIM." When you think it through, though, the math doesn't really work out. Even if I were to run SRM comfortably AND my leg felt perfect, that's still ~4-6 weeks to recover & be ready to train again, leaving only ~8-10 weeks before CIM. Which means it's pretty unlikely I'd be in top shape. The way things stand now, I have some solid training under my belt, and if I can get my leg taken care of (and cross train in the mean time), I'll be in a good spot to roll that training over to a new cycle & build on it.
  • CIM is a better race for that anyway. Don't get me wrong, Santa Rosa is a great marathon on a good course and it's very well run. But it's pretty much accepted out here that if you want the best possible shot at an awesome marathon, given the choice, you run the net downhill race with six turns in December, not the one with 30+ turns in wine country in August.

So here's my loose plan:

  • Keep chillin' on the elliptical this week.
  • Keep up the arch strength stuff.
  • Once I've been 100% pain free for 5-7 days, embark on said "sensible return-to-running" plan & follow the guidelines re: whether or not the pain stays gone.
  • Spend 9/2-9/9 in Portland living the good life. (Did I mention this?? SO EXCITED.)
  • Stop slacking on strength work & get back in a routine with A.T., focusing particularly on the arch issue because BAAAAH.
  • Pick up the serious training again by mid-to-late September (provided all is well with the foot/leg bone).
  • Maybe run a half in there somewhere if I'm feeling it.

So....yeah. Boo. Sucks. However, I am trying to make the best of it. I have two friends running, & since I've already got the weekend free & the hotel room & there's a lot of pretty awesome wine to be enjoyed (especially by someone who is not running a marathon Sunday morning), it seems only logical to drown my sorrows in Pinot Noir go enjoy what there is to be enjoyed.


  1. That DOES suck. But of course it's the right choice. No way do you want a full stress fracture! It's just too bad that you had such an effective training cycle up to now and can't run your race. Sorry.

  2. Ugh, that sucks. But based on my experience having similar symptoms, still running 2 shorter races, and then spending much of 2014 sidelined with a stress fracture, it sounds like you've made the right decisions.

  3. Bummer..that sucks. But I agree that you might as well chill & then focus on CIM. Are these coaches from RunCoach? Are you still using & liking it?

  4. I'm sorry! At least you'll have lots of wine to enjoy. And for the record, I completely agree that there has to be better options for an A race than Santa Rosa. Plus, you'll head into CIM training with a great base from this summer (and cooler temperatures!).

  5. I feel for you. I recently broke my ankle during a 50k trail race and i am signed up for CIM where I was going to try to BQ. I am already resigned to the fact that I won't be running it and I'm bummed. I hope you heal fast and will crush it at CIM.

  6. This sucks a lot, but at least CIM is a great race to have as a Plan B. From everything I've read about it (including your blog!), it seems like a terrific goal race. I hope everything heals quickly, that you have a great, wine-filled weekend at Santa Rosa, and that you can crush it at CIM. I'm running it and am SO EXCITED based on everything I've heard.

  7. As much as it hurts - and it will hurt a lot - making that decision is 100% the right one. It's so much better to run when your body's fit and healthy. So much more enjoyable to race when there's not the spectre of breaking down over your head.

  8. I wish this wasn't the case, but it sounds like you're already on your way to bigger and better things. Smart move, and I look forward to seeing you totally CRUSH CIM!

  9. Shocker. I am SO sorry. xxx

  10. Ugh, I am sorry. That was a wise choice for a marathon venue anyway - if things work out, you celebrate; if not, hey there's wine! I fully understand having unfinished business with the marathon and not wanting to just finish - you and me both.

  11. So this sucks. BUT... CIM is so much of a better option if you are going to train for a year (more or less) and bet it all on one all-out race. {{Hugs}} Have a glass of wine for me.