Three weeks ago today I woke up with terrible pain in my left lower leg. If you look at the picture...it was exactly in the spot that is labeled "tibial stress fracture". Yikes.
I knew I had pushed some limits the week before with working out at Iron Tribe (specifically running and jumping wearing VERY minimal shoes) on top of my longest run all year (18 miles on trails on Thursday) followed the next day with another longish run (one that was supposed to be 13, but I ended up making it 14.5 for a number of reasons).
That second run felt GREAT. I was completely surprised. About 80% of it was on trails but I ran the other 20% on the road with my worn out, non-stability, trail shoes with their completely worn out inserts. On trails I don't really seem to need the stability as much, and it usually doesn't matter at all...but running on the road with those shoes was quite obviously a terrible choice. I have to admit that I did know it at the time, but it felt good so I kept going.
All the choices I had made during the week came flooding back to mind as I tried to make a little hop on that leg (that's a classic "do I have a stress fracture" test....to be clear, I failed that test miserably). I was scheduled to run that day, but I was smart and not only skipped it, I put my leg up most of the day. The next morning I woke up and it wasn't much better. I got on the elliptical for an hour and it seemed to feel okay. I started telling myself there was no way it was a stress fracture, it was simply sore from the week's work.
But it hurt.
Monday I tried to stand up in Spin class and felt it acutely so I stayed in the saddle for the entire class. I had a massage appointment and the therapist really worked my foot and leg over. She said she really didn't think it was a fracture either. Whew.
But it hurt.
I tried to run mid week, but the first step HURT so I stopped after 100m. So I didn't work out that week at all other than Spin class, rowing and modified movements at ITF. And I started to worry. I had my first 50K race coming up in a week. I am signed up for the "Grand Slam" (3 50ks and a marathon in November, December and January).
I kept telling myself it would be fine...but it hurt. It didn't hurt all the time so I took that as a very good sign. But, it did hurt and I couldn't overlook it. So I went to the doctor 11 days after I failed the "jump test". After a very thorough examination he told me it might be a stress fracture, or it might be a problem with the tendon. I'll spare you the details (or I'll put them in another post), but he STRONGLY encouraged me to not run the race.
THAT hurt more than my leg.
I had a heart felt discussion with my husband, my best friend, my coach and another friend who all said it was a very bad idea to run the race. They all knew I was set on doing it if at all possible and they all tried to talk me out of making a stupid choice. The doctor had said to let pain be my guide. The problem with that was that if it was the tendon the worst thing I could do is to have partial healing and then injure it again. So there was a good chance it would feel fine before and during the race but hurt the next day (like it had done before).
All I could think about was the last two years of dealing with my shoulder...which started out as a diagnosis of tendonitis. But at the same time I did not want to live by fear. How on Earth was I going to know if it was going to hurt after the race if I didn't do the race. I honestly believed if it was really injured it would hurt. I honestly believed if I hurt I would stop. And, I honestly believed it was going to be okay.
I made the decision to get up Saturday and go to the start line and see what happened. I was going to take it mile by mile and be willing to quit if I had to. I have never quit a race before, but I was willing for this to be the first if that's what had to happen.
So, a week ago today I woke up, got ready and toed the line for my first 50K. ((I know if you are a reader of my blog, you already know what happened...sorry about that, I should have given a spoiler alert on my last post!))
...to be continued...