20 Miles Done Means It’s Taper Time

On Saturday, I ran 20 miles. I don’t know how I did it. It was hard. It was raining and 40 degrees. I hadn’t put foot to pavement since March 13 (and those 3 miles were so painful). So I knew it wasn’t going to be my best run, but by god it was going to be my longest.

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Mile 10 was the Natick/Wellesley border – the furthest west I’ve ever run on the course.

The first 4 miles were all mostly downhill, AKA quad killers. By this point I was warmed up and feeling good. But almost likely clockwork, the arch of my right foot began bothering mile just after hitting Mile 5. By the time we ran into Coach Jack at Mile 8 and he asked how I was feeling, I said it hurt but felt better if I tried to run on the outside of my right foot. He said that was bad, and would only cause new problems, and asked what my pain was on a scale of 1-10. I said 4. By Mile 10 (our turnaround point) it was about a 6, and by Mile 12 it was about an 8.

Around Mile 13, I went to wipe the sweat from my forehead (I’ve written about this before – I’m a heavy sweater) and there was none. This has literally never happened to me on a run. I asked one of the girls I was running with what that meant, and she said I was probably dehydrated but to ask one of the other girls. When I asked her, she confirmed I was likely dehydrated and/or hyponatremic. I didn’t have the telltale muscle cramps and my dried sweat wasn’t white & salty, so I think it was just dehydration. I stopped, had water and salt tabs and GU and Gatorade all within about a mile of each other, and walked for about 3-4 minutes. She stayed with me the whole time and eventually we caught up to everyone at a red light, but it was scary. I think I panicked more than anything, so when someone asked if I felt OK, I suddenly got tunnel vision and thought I might pass out but that was most likely just an anxiety attack/hypochondria. I ended up being fine, and honestly that little episode took my mind off the pain.

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Team Matty water stop at Mile 8/12. Oops – I’m one of the only ones not wearing a Team Matty t-shirt…but I was wearing one in spirit!

By Mile 17 or so, it was just Jess and me – the rest of our group had either gotten too fast for us or had called it a day, but we were determined to get to 20 miles. And we did, as ugly as they may have been. I could not have done it without her. I would have given up and asked our volunteers for a ride or called an Uber to take me back to BC if it weren’t for Jess motivating me to finish. I wanted to run 22 but it’s a miracle I was able to do 20.

When we got back to BC, the pain was worse now that I wasn’t running and even worse when I switched into flip-flops to shower and then when I put on my moccasin slippers afterward (please note: I don’t believe in grown women wearing leggings or slippers in public, but all that has changed since starting these long runs). I think the lack of arch support just really forced my foot into an uncomfortable position. We went to brunch and I could barely walk but two beers took the edge off, as did a massive cheeseburger and fries. I got a ride home, took a 20-minute power nap, and then drove two hours (really 2.5 with pit stops) to my mom’s in CT to spend some time with her for her birthday. The pain in the car was bad so I stopped on the way and bought four bags of frozen peas/corn, but the good news is that my shins barely hurt compared to my arch.

I actually slept well on Saturday night, which is unusual for me A. on my mom’s pullout couch and B. any Saturday night after a long run. But when I woke up on Sunday, I could hardly move. What they say about downhill running is true – my quads were SO sore and that’s something I really haven’t experienced much. My whole lower body was also just incredibly sore from the pounding of pavement it had forgotten about in my 2 weeks of switching outdoor runs for indoor elliptical sessions. But my arch, man. That pain was really something else. I limped around my mom’s but tried not to favor it too much. On the drive back to Boston, I pushed down on the accelerator weird and felt a searing pain, like I had actually torn something. I regretted not popping ibuprofen before the long drive home, and literally walked into my apartment and straight into the bathroom to take some.

I barely slept on Sunday night – a combination of the Sunday Scaries, missing Rags a whole lot and thinking about what damage I had possibly done to my foot. When I did fall asleep, I had nightmares about not making it to the starting line, collapsing mid-race, etc. I think I got about 2 hours of actual sleep. I almost took a sick day but knew I absolutely needed to go to my 9:30am PT appointment, which is right next to my office.

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Keeping my arch and all its bones where they belong.

When I got to PT, I explained how awful the run was because of the pain, but that I was stubborn and ran through the pain anyway. He was not surprised – he knows me too well. We both noticed the swelling on the inside of my right foot, where it meets the arch underneath. He did some manipulation of my foot where he’d pull the front of my foot toward him as I flexed my toes then curled them. We did this several times and after one time, it no longer hurt as much. He said the medial cuneiform had slipped out of place and the relief I felt was because he was able to maneuver it back into place. It was still very swollen and painful with radiating heat. My foot was so hot that it was sweating as I lied on the exam table barefoot, not moving. He taped me with Rock Tape (apparently so much better than KT Tape), and showed me how to do it myself at home. Then I did some bird dog and dead bug exercises. In addition to those every day, I’m to continue with shin self-massage, monster walks, clamshells, side planks, and single leg bridging. He wants me to stick with the Arc Trainer (elliptical) and pool running, no impact, and wear sneakers at work all day instead of flats or heels. I see him again on Monday and then the following Monday and his goal is to get me running again BEFORE April 17 but I – for once – am being ultra conservative.

I emailed Coach Jack and he was totally in support of the PT plan. He also arranged for me to work out for free at one of the local gyms that we run out of for our long runs from now until the Marathon. I actually like the Y, but this particular gym is much nicer, has ample parking, and a real hot tub instead of the dingy, tiny hot tub at my Y. And right now, I am giving my legs all the warm Epsom salt bath/hot tub time they need.

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