Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Injury to Insult

For me, injuries are the most humbling aspect of being an endurance athlete. You feel invincible, you just ran a 4-hour marathon, you just completed (in respectable time) a half-ironman triathlon, and gradually you are slowed by a pain that seems to appear out of nowhere. In reality, you've ignored it for months, hoping it will go away.
2007 was my best year ever--I set a PR (personal record) in every distance I raced, and missed qualifying for Boston by less than two minutes. I was regrouping from that disappointment when, snap!, the second metatarsal on my left foot snapped in two. I had felt pain in that area for weeks, the result of a stress fracture, but not knowing what a stress fracture felt like, I just kept on running.
The day the doctor put me in a cast I cried like a baby, and I kept crying for a few weeks, my dear, supportive husband patiently tolerating my fits. Six weeks later, the cast was off and I gingerly started a run/walk regimen. Eventually I got my groove back until first the left hamstring, then the right hamstring, then the piriformis muscle sent me screaming for the Aleve and the chiropractor.
Each time I have gotten injured, I have gotten angry about it. It just seemed so unfair, at first. But then it causes you to reassess, back off a bit and change some aspect of training, whether it's biking more and running less or working to strengthen those ever-vital hamstrings.
This latest injury started acting up some time in March. I have gotten two cortisone shots to try to alleviate the discomfort I feel at the ball of my right foot. The fact that they didn't work led the doctor to refer me to a podiatrist, who took one look at the foot and immediately diagnosed the problem.
So. . .I will be having foot surgery in December. It's not going to be pleasant or pretty, but it is necessary if I plan to keep competing. The bunion I have developed will not go away; the only way to manage it is for a doctor to operate. He has said I will be out of commission 3-4 months, but, given my obviously high tolerance for pain, it could be 2-3 months. That dashes my plans for a lot of triathlons next year--I don't want to register for races I might not be able to swim/bike/run, and the registrations close so quickly I might just be out of luck. That one we'll wait and see on.
Once I have the go-ahead I will get back in the pool, back on the bike, back into my running shoes, healthier and pain-free. So this will short-term discomfort for long-term gain; not a bad tradeoff.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Managing the Malaise

I read it very well might happen, but I didn't think it would happen to me: the post-race blues. Since I never suffered through postpartum depression after my two kids were born, I didn't think this would affect me--but it has.
So despite my personal triumph in the Syracuse Half-Ironman, that high has not translated.
Some mornings I sleep until 6:30, even though the alarm is set for 4:30. Some mornings, I run 3 miles instead of 7. Some mornings, I just don't want to get on my bike, so I don't. I've had a flat tire for about a week, and I just don't feel in any rush to get it fixed (though I'm buying a new tube today).
The pool? While the thought of gliding through the warm water comforts me, I just don't feel like hassling with leaving work, changing, swimming, showering, changing and going back to work. Seems like too much trouble these days.
Now part of the issue could be this nagging right-foot pain I've suffered with for about six months. Some days it's better than others, Aleve helps, and it doesn't hinder my running; it just makes it less enjoyable than usual. I am seeing a podiatrist next Friday, and hope for some definitive answers, and a solution to the problem. I'd even consider surgery; at least then the issue won't keep popping up.
I signed up to race a 5-miler in Eastwood on Sunday; somehow I'm still able to run fairly quickly, though my speed isn't what it used to be. Training more for endurance, plus the foot pain, kept me away from the track all season.
So, I'll keep pushing through this haze, planning my workouts, likely upping my weight work to three times a week since biking falls off when the weather worsens, and think about running a half-marathon in April. If I need foot surgery, that would give me plenty of time to heal and recover and train. Either way, having a goal should help dispel the malaise that has descended. I can only hope.