Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Miss You

Oh running, how I miss you!
I'm sorry if I ever took you for granted, which I know I did on several occassions.
How I would love to have just one of those long, grueling runs right now. I promise I would appreciate you this time.
I would revel in the sweat, pain, and sore muscles.
Even more though, I would revel in the feeling once again of moving freely through the world on my own two feet at a fast pace.
With nothing more encumbering than a light pair of shoes, shorts and top.
I've met your sisters - walking and cycling - and they are pretty nice too. But they aren't you.
You challenge me, push me, test me.
But for now, I'm trying to be happy with cycling. I can get my heart rate up while peddling at a good clip, and I move along the ground. But I don't leave the ground - either in body or mind - like I do with you, running. My mind soars while running and goes inward and outward to deep, wonderful places. You help me solve problems and dream about what I can do.
I miss you. And I'm looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks, I hope.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Diagnosis

After several days of pain in my foot and limping around, I couldn't deny any longer that it might be serious. I tried though! Last Saturday night, I went out with friends, and after a couple of martinis I was convinced my foot was healed. Then I did hot yoga on Monday night telling myself I would modify the poses to keep from using my foot too much - but of course I did not modify. My foot hurt even more after yoga. They don't say yogatoes for nothin'.

Soooo, I made an appointment with a podiatrist for Wednesday morning. He spent 5 minutes asking me how it happened, where it hurts, etc. He said it's a stress fracture. I would need to stay off of it for 3 weeks. Then he took x-rays to make sure. When he came back from studying the x-rays, he said he was wrong. From the look on his face I said, is it worse? Yes, he said, it's a hairline fracture. Your metatarsal bone is like an eggshell right now and could break all the way with too much impact or flexing. He said no running AT ALL for 6 weeks.

What? This can't be. I haven't NOT run for more than 15 years. I run. I can't just stop for 6 weeks. Doesn't he know the Rock n Roll Half is coming up in 8 weeks? Yes, he's sorry, but I won't be doing the RnR.

He was a nice doctor but I pretty much hated him at that moment. Hate is a strong word. I had a million feelings racing through my body, and that was just one fleeting moment. Mostly I felt anger at myself for letting this happen. I felt like a small child being told the day before Halloween that I couldn't go trick or treating that year. It's not fair - I love the RnR races.

The nice doctor said maybe 2011 just isn't my race year. He said it's ok and that it could have been worse. I knew on the rational level somewhere far away that he was probably right, but I was standing there in his office holding back a wall of water and emotion. I managed to say thank you and ask a few questions about treatment. Nope, the icing won't really help at this point. Don't take any more Ibuprofen because it deters bone healing. Yes, you can take Vitamin D if you want, but you don't necessarily need it - your bone density is fine.

Just lots of rest (whooppee). He said I had a choice of wearing a medical boot for 6 weeks or promising to wear only stiff-soled shoes like my Dansko's to keep my foot from flexing. Yup, I'll wear Dansko's. What can I do for exercise though, walking? Well, you can take easy slow walks, but don't take off speed walking for 5 miles. You can cycle and swim. Great, I hate swimming anywhere except the beautiful warm waters of Hawaii. Cycling it is!

So it's been a week of not running. I miss running. I was watching joggers on the trail today outside my window at work. Ahhh, what perfect weather for running it was. I guess I'll appreciate it more in June when I'm back on the trail again.

Anyone up for cycling?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ouch! TMTS

This isn't easy to write. It's been even harder to deal with. On Wednesday, during my 4-mile run in my VFF's with a half-mile to go, my left foot started hurting. It came on quickly, even though there wasn't an accident or anything sudden to pinpoint. I stopped to massage my foot and stretch for a minute and tried running again. No way! It hurt too much. I walked back the rest of the way, visibly limping, and trying every now and then to run a little and convince myself that it wasn't so bad.

Even though I thought I was adjusting to the VFF's very well, it's a case of TMTS (too much too soon). I did more hills on this particular run than I had done in the VFF's so far, and I ran the downhills instead of walking/running easily down them. Of course, this is where the most pounding occurs. And one of the downhills was a concrete sidewalk. Blast! So now I know I'm not ready for running downhill on concrete yet. It's been too many years of wearing cushioned shoes and letting my feet become weak to then expect them to handle such a pounding. It's given me more respect for my feet and all the connected, working parts of my body.

I researched online and found that I'm right on track for the most typical barefoot running injuries. I guess that gives me some kind of twisted comfort. Most people, who are experienced runners and start running barefoot or in minimalist shoes, first experience tight, sore calves from suddenly using non-elevated heels (check). Then the tightness in the calves leads to top-of-the-foot pain because of how the calves are lengthening and pulling on the feet (check!). My foot still hurts, but at least now I know I'm not the only over-eager barefooter newbie in pain who had to learn the hard way.

This isn't going to derail my experiment (sorry Dan). First things first, I've got to see if my foot starts to get better soon to know how serious this is. Hopefully this injury will heal in a week or two, and I can start running again. My new plan will be to only run in my VFF's once a week while running in regular running shoes the other three days. I'll shoot for doing the Portland Half in my VFF's in October instead of the June RnR.

That's the new plan if my foot heals pretty quickly. I don't even want to consider the other possibilities yet. It's depressing enough not running for the past three days. This morning I went to my usual running trail and walked very slowly, and with a limp, for maybe a mile. I had the foresight to bring my camera with me so I could distract myself and stop often for photo opportunities. It's amazing what you see when you're moving at a snail's pace. There's a beautiful paper bark tree right off the trail that I'd never noticed, and the birds were singing as if it was spring instead of 48 degrees.

Lo and behold, what else did I see on the trail? A barefoot runner! Damn him anyway, looking all happy as he moved along quickly and silently. And he was totally barefoot, unshod, skin-on-the-ground, not even VFF's. I wanted to ask him if he'd ever had the top-of-the-foot pain, but he was in his groove, so I just watched him glide past as I turned to limp back to the car.

I WILL continue my pursuit of running barefoot, but much much slower from now on, and with more care for my tender feet. Now please just heal and let me get back to running. Amen Hallelujah PraiseGod LovetoBuddha Namaste BlessyouMotherNature Prettyplease.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 2 in SLC

My second day running in my VFF's in Salt Lake City was awesome, sunny and 58 degrees! Today I ran to, around, and through Temple Square. I think I covered every square inch of it. When I first entered the square, the first thing that hit me was the sweet, strong fragrance of hyacinths. There were beautiful spring flowers blooming in all the gardens. The second thing that hit me was the imposing, pristine buildings of the headquarters building and the main temple. They are giants towering high above the flowering trees and clear, light blue water of the fountains. The fountain directly in front of the temple is a large round infinity pool style that slowly flows off the edges, but the top of the water is so still it looks like you could...well, walk on water. There are several beautiful buildings inside the square, and I was glad to be able to run past them and admire the stonework and gardens all around.

There was a wedding party having photographs taken inside the square on the green grass with the flowers and fountain in the background. Just as I was running by them, eight groomsmen threw the groom high into the air so he floated for a split second among the clouds.

Today was mostly running on concrete sidewalks, and I went a little longer, so I'm pretty sure my calves will let me know tomorrow how unhappy they are. I'll give them a day's rest and then sqeeze them back into their little toe sleeves on Friday.

Happy Running  :o)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Vibram's Go To Utah

Last week, I ran twice in my VFF's, 4  miles each. They were pretty good runs. The Tuesday run my goal was to change my route enough so that I was mostly running on an unpaved trail or asphalt. I was pretty successful at avoiding concrete, which is the most unforgiving surface for running and the hardest one on your body. I really enjoyed the softer surfaces, and it was really fun to run in the grass next to the sidewalk for a while. You just have to watch out for holes or dips to keep from spraining an ankle. For the Thursday run, I did a usual route that included some concrete and hills. I'm still getting used to going downhill in the VFF's. I have to take it pretty easy going downhill since you're really using your calves if you land lightly on your forefoot, but if you don't, it's pretty jarring.

On Saturday, I did 6 miles in my regular running shoes. It was a good run although my calves were still pretty tight. I took a whirlpool bath that afternoon to massage my calves. Ahhhhhhh.

So this week, my VFF's got to come to Salt Lake City with me. After being in an office all day, I was able to squeak in a run before dinner. The very nice guy at the hotel desk gave me a map and showed me a good, safe route for running. I did around 3 miles in downtown SLC in my VFF's. I felt great! Even though the weather was kinda nasty. It was blustery,chilly, and threatening to rain before I finished. It was so windy, the dust was blowing in my eyes, nose and mouth. But running in a new place is always exhilerating and a good way to shake up your routine. It's also a nice sight-seeing method to see what's in the nearby vicinity.

And packing VFF's? Fahgettaboutit! They are the perfect packable shoes - lightweight, small, dry quickly, and no need to pack running socks!

Friday, March 25, 2011

My First VFFs

The book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall inspired me to run barefoot like the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's Copper Canyon. They are natural runners and learn to love running at a very early age by playing running games in the mountains. I read up on how runners in our more modern concrete, car-filled society are starting to find ways to run barefoot.
I considered the method of finding a golf course or park and running on the grass with no shoes. It sounds kind of enticing on a hot, sunny day. But then, how many days in the Emerald City (it’s green here for a reason) are going to be hot and sunny? Not nearly enough for this girl, and running in the cold, wet, muddy grass in bare feet isn't going to motivate me.
I then came across the Nike Free running shoes, and a couple of friends vouched that they liked theirs. I ran in Nike Free's for a year, and I think it was a good transition to prepare for even more minimalist shoes. Now I’m ready to go to the next level.
Enter…Vibram Five Fingers. I have the VFF Bikila running shoe in white/gray/green. They were named after Abebe Bikila (which is another good book, Barefoot Runner: The Life of Marathon Champion Abebe Bikila). So now I have a plan...
My Goal
To run the Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon in my Vibram Five Fingers and ultimately to run exclusively barefoot-style.
What I have going for me:
·   I’ve been a runner for more than 15 years
·   I’ve completed more than 10 half marathons and 1 full marathon
·   I’m low-to-average weight so fairly light build
·   I love the outdoors and nature and feeling like I’m connected to the Earth (which you definitely feel more with barefoot shoes than with thick-soled shoes)
·   I’ve always loved going barefoot, and I still go barefoot in the house or just socks
What I have going against me:
·   I love wearing cute high-heeled shoes and don’t plan to stop
·   I had 2 bunion surgeries on my right foot many years ago and still have a screw in my foot
 My Progress So Far
I ran on Wednesday, March 23rd, in my VFFs and completed 3 miles. You're supposed to work up to running in VFFs VERY slowly, which I probably didn't do. My feet were a little sore while I was running because of the hard surfaces (concrete and asphalt), but they were fine once I stopped running. My calves, however, were very tight afterwards. I knew this would happen since I've read other blogs and reviews on getting used to running barefoot, so it was no surprise.

I ran today, 2 days later, and completed 4 miles. My calves were still sore from Wednesday, but I decided to give my VFFs another go since it was a sunny day. I debated about wearing my Nike Free's to give my calves a rest, but then the nice weather lulled me into putting on my lightweight barefoot-like VFFs. I had a great run - sunshine, 60 degrees, feeling good. But now my calves REALLY hurt. I'm trying not to walk funny, but I can only ignore the tightness in my calves so much.

Tomorrow I'm running 5 miles, and I am going to give my calves a break with my good ole Asics. I'll be back to running in my VFFs next week.

Keep on Running!