Uncertain Freedom

Last night, I ventured out on my first real run in 3 weeks.  Sure, I’ve thrown in 2 and a 3 miler here and there.  But those were more test runs while barely pushing my body whatsoever.

3 weeks ago on the dreaded Thursday afternoon, I went on my typical 6 mile run.  I was running strong, passing people on the left every other 1/8th mile.  I felt great and the run was fantastic.  On my return, with just under 2 miles to go, I was pounding the gravel as fast as I could.  Not far ahead, I saw a slight dip in the trails; nothing out of the ordinary.  But when I planted my left foot, it tipped slightly.  That moment, I knew.

For 3 weeks, I walked in pain.  My foot was slightly swollen and there was nothing I could do about it.  The internal inflammation was nothing compared to the large rashes on the bottom of my foot and left side.  I tried to take a few days off, but I knew that this was something worse.  And by worse, I mean something completely new and different.

I’ve been prone to plantar fasciitis since I’ve started running.  I’m use to it and I know how to treat it in a way that I could get back to running soon.  I usually get them a few times a year, always a month before each race.  With the help of a frozen golf ball and proper supportive shoes, I was back running within a week; 2 if I was slacking.  But this was different.  The pain was on the top of my foot and it throbbed when I walked.  This was new and worse, I have no idea how to treat it.  I was helpless.

I thought maybe a week off, I could go for a short run and then maybe…no.  It just got worse.  Frustrated at this injury, I also knew it was a blessing.  This was my first injury of the year.  Usually by this time, I would have been sidelined once and about to be sidelined again in a week.  I must be doing something right for a change.  And yet, I did something wrong such that I was afraid this new injury would plague me in the future.  Either way, as impatient as I was, I try to stay off my feet as much as I could.  I wanted to run again.  I want to PR.  But most importantly, I wanted to be out there, free and running.

Three weeks after the day, I laced up my retired running shoes.  My current ones were causing me issues since the incident, perhaps my old ones would bring me luck.  Either way, I was nervous as I headed out.  I wanted to run and a good run nonetheless.  But I wouldn’t be surprised, though greatly disappointed, if I had to call it quits early due to my left foot.  I biked out to Recreation Park in hopes of getting my legs loose.  In reality, it didn’t matter.  I was scared and delaying my run as long as I could.

The first mile was rough.  My lungs screamed in pain and my lefts were stiff as stilts.  My body was questioning me, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?  I am no ready for this!”  While my mind said, “Holy crap!  It’s been too long!  Go faster!  You were never injured.”  The distance felt longer that I remembered, perhaps because it’s been 3 weeks, but I trotted on.

As I started mile 2, I was called out by a fellow runner and Runnerd fan, MarathonMissFit.  It wasn’t the first time I’ve been recognized and called out on the trail; it sure wouldn’t be my last.  I stopped to chat and she how her run was going.  She was running five and 2/3rds through, but it was rough on her.  It was rough on me too.  The rest of the 2nd mile was still stiff, but not as bad as the first.  If there was any consolidation, I was passing people.  As stiff and uncomfortable as I was, I was passing people one by one.

As mile three began, my legs started to remember the movements but what surprised me more was the fact that how slow I naturally am, I kept on passing to the left of other runners.  It’s been 3 weeks since my last run, there’s no reason I should be passing these many people.  It’s not like they were running slow because I’m the one who is running really slow.

4 passed quickly.  Then 5.  By that point, only three runners passed me while I’ve passed over two dozen.   After hydrating at mile 5, I saw a runner that I passed awhile ago sprinted ahead.  Was I keeping him pace?  I returned to the trail to track him down after giving him a quarter mile lead. With one foot in front of another, I pushed forward.  My legs still felt stiff after 3 long weeks, but they were remember.  My lungs didn’t like the hard breathing, but they were up for the challenge.  If anything, I was determined to return to my form prior to the injury.

I had a 2/10 of a mile left in my 6 miler and I was at most 75 feet behind him.  I started to kick it even harder than before.  I was determined until I saw him veered left.  His run was over before I could cut those last positive distance into negative ones.  Balls.

Disappointed, I knew that I would run another day.  My body was not as out of shape as I thought, but I was struggling more than I should.  I was still cautious of my left foot, but today brought me hope.  The uncertain freedom of running was slowly becoming more certain.  Though I am not 100%, I was happy with this run.  I being the pessimistic runner than I am, I would clock it at an hour.  However, the actual truth would have been closer to 50 minutes, but I’ll stick to the hour mark.  Why?  Because I’m slow and it’s my first time back.  Either way, I can’t wait until tomorrow as I try again.

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5 thoughts on “Uncertain Freedom

  1. I love that you call a two- or three-mile run a “test.” I’d die after just one mile, ha.

    It’s normal to be disappointed when something that used to be easy becomes a challenge, but once your stride is back to normal and you’re running these distances more regularly, I’m sure you’ll get right back in the swing of things. Optimism goes a long way, ya know.

  2. I’ve always admired your teams spunk and sticktoitness. However, I’ll still admire you if you quit to save your feet from a lifetime of pain and misery (told Max the same thing).

  3. ugh, i can’t do a 6 mile run right now. i used to be able to do 5s no problem, but haven’t ventured since i’ve been married. now i’m just getting fat and sluggish…bleh. you make me want to push myself harder : )

  4. That’s so incredibly admirable that in the face of adversity you went ahead and tried anyway. I have to agree with Mindy – optimism goes an awfully long way, and your determination is going to get you far indeed 🙂

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