And Then THIS @#$%ing Happened

Can you believe they didn't have anything in pink?

Can you believe they didn’t have anything in pink?

For the sake of clarity, that is not a tree trunk.

It is my right foot wrapped in a shoe from my orthopedic doctor.   Again for the sake of clarity, I mention that it is, in fact, a shoe because it really only resembles a shoe in that my foot is in it.

I made the appointment with the orthopedic doctor three weeks ago, when my foot first started really bothering me.  This morning, he poked it all over and bent it in different directions and had x-rays taken.  He said the x-rays showed no signs of stress fracture (I guess, after several weeks, stress fractures do tend to show up on x-rays), but that only an MRI would tell for certain.

He basically told me that whether I had a stress fracture or not, that he’d prescribe wearing the shoe for three weeks.  So he’d recommend that I just go ahead and do that – wear the shoe for three weeks – then come back in to be re-evaluated.  I’m to wear the shoe all the time.  That is, I’m not to walk around barefoot.

So, just to make sure I was crystal clear on my instructions, we had this conversation:

Me: “So I’m supposed to wear this shoe and a tennis shoe all the time, unless I’m getting showered or going to bed?”

Him: “Right.”

Me: “And I can’t run on it at all for three weeks?”

Him [put his head in his hands and then grinned]: “Do I have to give you a knuckle sandwich?”

Me: “Okay…okay!”

Because their appointments are booked, I wasn’t even able to schedule my follow up visit until a little over four weeks from now.  Specifically, my appointment is four days after the Pittsburgh Marathon.  (Didn’t think about this when I was scheduling the appointment, but I guess that means that I should lay off the running – and keep wearing the shoe – for that additional week?  I guess I’ll see how it feels.)

So….  Crap.  Just as I got to the place where I was at peace with running a slower half marathon than I’d hoped, a place where I was happy that I could just go enjoy the race and run with one of my favorite people, I’m officially out.

On one hand, I feel relieved that I can let go of my big fears for the race.  I don’t have to worry that I’m going to run 13.1 miles and make more of a mess of my foot/ankle.  I don’t have to worry about how ridiculously loooong it might take me to finish.    Or worse, that I’d go to the race and get picked up by the sweep bus!  This is one situation where I’d argue that “DNF” would be worse than “DNS.”

On the other hand, I feel like crying.  I’ve been holding it together since this morning when I got this news, but I just deleted “Pittsburgh Half Marathon” from my electronic calendar, and it’s starting to hit me.  I think I was a little shocked at first.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew this was one of the more likely outcomes.  I guess I was hoping that he’d say that I could keep running on it but that I needed to do some exercises, with a physical therapist or at home, to help strengthen and heal the foot.  I expected something like that.  Something that was not not-running.

I don’t like the answer, but at least I have an answer – plus the hope that it will get better and I’ll be back to normal soon.  (Friends: quit laughing at “normal.”)  But I have to figure out what I can do with myself in the meantime.  The problem is that, in addition to the fitness benefits, running is my mental salve.  Running keeps me sane.  Running inoculates me from the stressors of my day.  In short, I turn into kind of a b!tch when I don’t get to run routinely.

I asked – sort of pathetcially – what I was supposed to DO with myself for three weeks.  He said to do “something else.”  He specifically said I could bike and asked me if I had a gym membership.  I told him I had a pass for group fitness classes at the Aerobic Center, and he said I couldn’t do other things where I’d be bouncing on my feet.  Fortunately, the classes I’m interested in (that are at times I can swing) should be fine.

Well, I’d been considering adding biking to the mix, but was too lazy to do much about it.  Lucky for me, my mom has a bike that she doesn’t use any more.  I merely inquired at my parents’ house about whether or not her bike was in usable condition, and my dear, old dad swung into action!  He got it out, inflated the tires, found me a helmet, and offered instructions on how (and why/when) to shift the gears.  I don’t think I’ve been on a (non-stationary) bike since I was about 13 years old, so I was actually a little frightened about trying it out.  If anyone could be the exception to the rule that ‘you never forget how to ride a bike,’ it could be me.  But it was way less scary than I anticipated.      In fact, it was fun riding up and down their street, trying to get the hang of it.  Dad and I are going to hit the local running/biking trail one evening later this week, weather permitting.

It was like being 7 all over again - only Dad didn't run alongside me this time

It was like being 7 all over again – only Dad didn’t run alongside me this time! (And clearly I need to get the helmet fitted properly.)

Bottom line: I’m trying to have a positive attitude.  Instead of focusing on what I can’t do right now, I’m going to focus on what I can do.

  • can go to the Aerobic Center for classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays (where I’ll also see some friends!).
  • can take this opportunity to do something I’d been wanting to do anyway and learn to ride a bike.
  • can see it as a new adventure.
  • can hope that I might even like biking as much as running – which would give me options, variety and, perhaps, less chance of injury in the future.
  • can think of it as pre-triathlon training, as I would like to attempt a sprint triathlon sometime, maybe next year.
  • And I can be grateful that this is likely but a minor injury/setback. Yeah, the timing sucks that this happened just before a big race I was looking forward to.  But worse things could happen.

Can’t wait to share how the biking (wearing the shoe) goes!

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