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You can't run away from injury

As a distance runner, I can flick with the best of them.

Like a horse that swishes its tail, delivering those pesky flies a one-way ticket to anywhere but here. But what happens when that fly keeps swooping in, you keep flicking and it just won't leave you alone?

That's what has happened to me as I'm battling plantar fasciitis -- the thick tissue on the bottom of my foot is inflamed making running pretty painful. This could be from overuse. Possibly, OK, probably. Most assuredly. I think I'm doing a pretty good job of moving into the "acceptance" phase of this. Maybe.

Tonight I was supposed to run El Scorcho -- a 50K at midnight in Ft. Worth. Yes, a 50K in July. Crazy. It's on a 5K loop that is partially crushed limestone.

Three weeks ago I was ready for this event. I had just completed my final long run -- 26 miles. A self-made marathon with no crowds, no medals, just a long, hot training run. Here is the evidence:

 

 

Then I ran 10 miles the next day and proclaimed myself ready.

Frankly, I was possibly too ready. A bit overtrained perhaps without much of a break after racing in Boston in April. I devised a plan and figured I could handle whatever I concocted for myself.

And I completed the plan. I was beginning my taper and feeling tweaky. Actually, I had felt this way for weeks, but didn't dare acknowledge it. There was a plan to follow and miles to run. I was flicking fairly ferociously.

But the flies kept coming back with reckless abandon.

So I'd reason: "Well, I took a whole day off. My foot still hurts like crazy when I get up, and when I walk and especially if I sit too long. But, if I warm it up with an eight-to-10 mile run, which isn't too far, it will undoubtedly feel loads better. I'll show that inflamed tissue who is in charge. After all, even though I'm a 40-something suburban mom, my hopes and never-realized Olympic dreams undoubtedly depend mightily on this."

Runners rarely come to the smartest conclusions about their own physical health on their own. It only comes when doing what we love most, running, becomes excruciating. It's particularly difficult for someone like me, who regularly logs 60 miles a week painfree and long runs are a true source of joy. But I knew something was wrong when I couldn't muddle my way through 3 miles.

So I acknowledge this, which is far different than acceptance.

Acknowledgement is akin to putting yourself on the DL. It comes with the obligation to spend that time you would be running educating yourself via the Internet of every possible thing that might be wrong. And every remedy that might accompany it. I will read this information while icing my foot, or on my iPad while stretching my calves.

Thoroughly informed, I will shop for every possible cure all to tame the tissue. While runners spend manically at expos, especially places like Boston, where you would sacrifice your first-born child before not getting a jacket, an injured runner will outspend a hyped-up expo runner any day of the week.

Yep, I'm writing this wearing a $45 pair of socks that does not even have a home for my toes. (If you don't believe me, just check out the cottage industry devoted to injured runners.)

And once I've thoroughly self-diagnosed and overspent, the next phase it telling anyone who will listen about your malady.

"Oh, teenage grocery store clerk, so glad you inquired how I am. Let me tell you more than you ever want to know about my right foot."

"Oh, hello to my neighbor getting the mail I never talk to. Do you know I haven't run in THREE days? Can you believe that?"

Your neighbors now put their head down in a state of nonrecognition and question if you've become unhinged.

Fortunately, I have friends, good friends, who also happen to run. They understand running is part of who I am? Who am I? Not Jean Valjean, but a runner. And I'll run again. Hopefully soon.

boston rave fun

So to do that, I am waving the white flag before tonight's race even started.

But wait, I have just had the longest taper of my life. I'm ready! I trained for this! I could go run 31 miles in the Texas heat at midnight. That will be rollicking fun with cheering crowds. Doing this on an overuse injury is a remarkable tale in the making, everyone will realize how tough I am. Just yesterday I jogged about 50 yards, and it felt great.

Uh no. Good luck to my running amigos at El Scorcho. I'm all for good crazy, but not for plain loco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shaken, not foresaken after Boston

Seven days ago, at 2:50 p.m., the numbers fell off the clock face. Where people had been running, they halted. Time
stopped as bombs shook the ground and shattered spirits of those near finish line of the Boston Marathon.
I had finished the race 48 minutes prior. I was on a train headed to my hotel in Cambridge. I had friends near the finish, whom I frantically and thankfully located. I returned home feeling like I was living in a gray area. Somewhere between lost and found. At times bursting into tears and knowing the world can be a dark place, yet seeing such sweet acts of kindness, I know the light will overshadow evil.
And with that, I offer up my own personal recipe for comfort. I know that every person who experienced Boston last Monday must concoct their own list of ingredients – it’s intensely personal. But ultimately, I know while I have been shaken, it is by the acts of
those who love me the most that I have not been forsaken, as the Old South Church in Boston told its congregation at a recent interfaith healing service.
Recipe for repair:
52 furious text messages received in the first hour after the bombing ensuring my well-being
At least 20 phone calls in the hours after the bombing, including a vital call to my son, 9, who after being assured
I was fine, immediately asked about the well-being of my fellow runners from Flower Mound.
Dozens of Kleenex used to mop my tears when sobs emerge as my heart has been shattered.
A healing one mile, run with my son on 4-17, the day known as Run for Boston Day.
5 fellow yoga teacher trainees who wrapped and squeezed me like a python in a take-your-breath-away group embrace to welcome me home to my studio at Inspire Yoga.
One homecooked meal to nourish my soul in a wake of carry out food and some lovely purple tulips that reminds me people can be oh-so-good
4.6 miles run Saturday with my running tribe, The North Texas Striders, who observed a moment of silence for those in Boston, then we marched forward, together on a true “recovery” run
3 yoga classes last week, where I could find solace in my practice, including the instructors who gave calming words and offered therapeutic touch.
$250 collected at the Running Moms Rock race for The One Fund Boston, most of which came in $5 and $1 donations. Especially
poignant was a man who came I did not know, delivered $10 and a huge bear hug saying he was happy for my safety.
One completely unexpected phone call from an area minister who only sees me around Christmas and Easter, but knows I run. Knows I love Boston. Knows I was likely there, and expressed his concern for Dylan and me and prayers for our well being.
One special nighttime sign-off between my son and me. The unicorn is the official symbol of the Boston Marathon. My son knows this, and how this race experience is so dear to me. As I have tucked him into bed, we have special nicknames for one another. I call him “bed dog”
for his love of dogs, and he calls me bed bug, simply because he thinks it’s funny. Our new sign off – me: “Good night Bed Dog.” Dylan: “Good night Bed Unicorn.”
My best to all who experienced Boston as you find your own concoction for healing. Keep moving forward. Run for Boston. Boston strong.
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Recovery runs in the wake of Boston

On Wednesday, I took the ultimate “recovery run” with my 9-year-old son.
As runners, these jaunts in our vernacular mean, meaningless miles. Junk miles. Slow, easy, and inconsequential miles.
Not the case this week. On Monday, I ran the Boston Marathon finishing 48 minutes before the first bomb exploded. You can read about it in my previous blog. Wednesday, my son Dylan and I ran FOR Boston thanks to Run for Boston 4/17, a Facebook group that asked that you simply run in support of those impacted by the horror of Monday’s events. Take a picture. Post it. So we did.
I am forever grateful that running has provided the backdrop for some of most amazing and amazingly difficult times in my life. To running, my debt of gratitude can never be repaid. In this sport, I found my identity, literally, where I am known by my first name, not that of my child’s (aka Dylan’s mom).
As a distance runner, my running friends know me to the bottom of my Brooks’ Pure Flow shoes. Go out on a 20-mile jaunt
and the topics of conversation are endless. Some of our stories are spit-milk-out-of-your-nose funny, such as when I was caught half-naked in the water by my pool service guy while I was doing an ice bath soak for my legs after a 20-miler in my frigid pool in February.
But most of it is just stuff. The threads of stories that make up the mundane day-in, day-out stuff of real life. Rarely do you have three hours to tell anyone all about it, but your running buddies get that unvarnished version.
We also are free therapy when the major hiccups of life come along.
I’ve run through a friend’s diagnosis of cancer, I’ve run through my dad’s brain surgery, I’ve run through my divorce. Recovery runs abounded to make me a stronger person. Able to persevere.
Whenever life doesn’t compute, lace up your running shoes. Chances are the equation makes more sense when you get back.
I’m trying that same philosophy on for size as I’m trying to run through an event that has rattled me. I’m not sure it fits. This is one of the largest personal earthquakes I have ever experienced – these twin bombings. Fortunately, I was safe in my hotel when the bombs went off. But I still experience daily aftershocks.
In attacking this race, for me personally, these acts have laid claim to things I have held as core values about people. About the human spirit. About running.
I’ve run Boston the last six years because to me, it symbolizes not a race but an EXPERIENCE. It’s Patriots’ Day, which symbolizes the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” as the American Revolution began. It’s a state holiday. A day off work, off school. A day Bostonians thump
their chests and proclaim this holiday theirs alone. Is anything more patriotic than celebrating your freedom, catching an early Red Sox game and then going to cheer on your fellow humankind attempting to run some crazy distance (26.2 miles) simply for the glory of running?
Crossing that finish line is symbolic not because it’s the end of a race as much as you were a part of something special. You took part in the biggest pep rally imaginable – with about 500,000  spectators – celebrating the human spirit.
And now, in the wake ofunimaginable tragedy and loss, we are left to grapple with so many unanswerable questions. In the void of intelligible answers, I can’t consult any past experiences, because nothing compares to this on a personal scale for me. So I’m left to devise my own recovery plan.
For now, I think it’s going to be a mighty long series of recovery runs -- surrounded with that personal cheer squad, the spectators in your life who support you, slap you high-fives, give you water when you need it, encourage you until they are hoarse and hug you at the finish
line.
And as runners we keep moving forward. It’s all we know. And maybe with that, the real business of recovery can begin.
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49 minutes before the blast....

Runners know success is about pacing, and it comes down to timing, especially when racing the Boston Marathon.
49 minutes.
That is the time that elapsed when I finished the Boston Marathon and the first of two explosions rocked a city and a nation to its core at 2:50 p.m. Three dead, more than 130 wounded and a nation of runners and nonrunners stripped of a veneer of innocence in plume of white smoke.
I had completed my sixth consecutive Boston Marathon. This place is crack cocaine; I’m hooked on this event. This city wraps you up in its biggest bear hug, not a wimpy, warm fuzzy type, but a euphoric back-slapping, “Hell, good to see you, but RUN! Run faster and farther!”
As a runner, it’s our Super Bowl – a huge outdoor party celebrating the human spirit through the training efforts of runners from every state and many countries, dedicated volunteers (the ones who do amazing work to hand you water at hand level and even might fold the cup
into a perfect “v” so you don’t spill) and fanatical, occasionally bedazzled, soon-to-be hoarse-voiced spectators.
But someone crashed that party in an act of such horrific terror it left me feeling rudderless -- as if I was some boat adrift on Boson Harbor flailing in a nor’easter.
I had managed to get back to my hotel room after the race, showered and suddenly my phone signaled a lot of messages. Not entirely unusual after a marathon, but these were odd messages asking if I was OK. The runner in me thought people were concerned because I
ran much slower than I planned, but then I got a message from my brother not only asking if I was OK, but he added “worried.” “Please call or text, I told mom about the explosions.”
49 minutes. It is rattling to consider I might have run past previously placed bombs near the finish line,
and it’s only a matter of some crazy Russian roulette-like timing that this fanatic didn’t choose to detonate them sooner.
So I staggered on exhausted legs and turned on the TV and in an instant, my world changed. Where you define a
“new normal” and that time came for me around 3:09 p.m.
I watched and wept. I felt I was in a dreamlike state knowing I had been in the very spot where this had occurred.
Had finished the race and even allowed myself a minute to soak it all in –something I rarely do.
In those 49 minutes preceding the explosion, I stole an extra minute or two to absorb the human spectacle that was the
finish line.
I looked up at the Old South Church, where I had been on Sunday for a special “Blessing of the Athletes” service and
noticed the blue and yellow triangular marathon flags fluttering in the breeze, the bluest sky, the boisterous crowds you can hear for what seems like miles. I thought: “This is so good.”
You see, even if you don’t run, you can understand that Boston is not a race as much as a celebration of people.

Which is what makes this act all the more gut-wrenching, makes me want to throw up in the back of my throat positively awful.
As any parent can attest, the reason I’m most grateful I was 49 minutes ahead of this horror is my precious and inquisitive 9-year-old. I called him and told him I was OK, but some awful explosion had happened. I said it was serious and people had died and were very hurt. He asked about all my friends, and I assured him they were OK, too. Then he asked the question I knew would come.
“But mom, why, why would someone do this?”
I told him honestly, mom didn’t totally know. I explained there are people in this world who hurt, and I can’t even begin to understand how or why. Sometimes there are no words to explain, define, let alone understand this level of hate.
I added that despite this, there were brave and caring people in this city. The news has been flooded with stories of people, volunteers, fellow runners, charging into who knows what to try to help the most critically injured.
I am an optimist. I believe that people are generally good, and that spirit is on display like a strutting peacock in full regalia at the Boston Marathon. And as an “ordinary” runner it’s amazing that an entire city can lift you up and make you feel extraordinary just for going on a mighty long run. For that I am so grateful.
But yesterday was not about the long run. The the final times I posted are inconsequential in this. The marathon, the running of it, of such secondary importance. Yet the timing, is anything but inconsequential.
Consider your own 49 minutes. The flood of texts, messages and hugs has been a humbling reminder of how I am lucky to have such a fantastic tribe that spans the country. I implore you to go share that message of "I'm glad you're OK," with someone you love.
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Running out of control!

For the latest technological wizardry with Garmins and gear, as quirky runners, this stuff gives us a sense of calm and being in control.
We can control the minutia, in my case to one-hundredth of a mile. If I have to run 20, if the Garmin says 19.95, that just isn’t enough because I have to hit every target. Goodness knows my Olympic dreams could come end abruptly if I didn’t do that .05 mile.
Yes, as runners, we like to be in control. Control of our pacing, control of our mileage, control of the grand outcome that matters mightily to mere mortals such as us.
And just two days before the Dallas Marathon, I hate to tell you, it’s just an illusion.
I have trained eight runners (myself included) with plans to race in Dallas on Sunday. Six of them will reach the start line, two will not. One is battling injury, and one illness.
So we’re batting .750, which is great for baseball, but disappointing for that unlucky 25%. I know there are scores of other runners who planned to race, and for whatever reason, they won’t be there.
So you might have the latest and greatest Garmin, but if you pass out at the doctor’s office with a nasty case of the flu, like Emily Tumis, (looking healthy in pic below. Emily is on the left and we're celebrating the fact she will do her first half), it does not matter that you hit every training run spot on. It doesn’t matter that you trained longer and harder than you ever thought you could for your first half-marathon. Somebody forgot to the tell the virus.
You can be just seven days out from running your first half marathon like another of my clients and break your toe on what turned out to be a not-so-everyday run and it does not matter if your shoes were the greatest money could buy. Sometimes life yanks the carpet from
you, even if you are pretty fleet footed in your fancy Brooks.
I had a tough conversation with a different client and friend this week knowing she had an overuse injury, and desperately wanted to run Sunday. I asked her, “If you had not already registered for this race, would you ever consider running it?”
“Of course not!”
Just because you paid your entry fee doesn’t make it any less stupid to choose to run.
I didn’t say it quite like that, but she got the point.
And in realizing sometimes we can’t always steer our own course just the way we want, we can release a little and realize it’s OK. This does not mean you throw a pity fiesta, kick off your running shoes and say: “Why try, I have no control anyway?”
No, this is finding some area of gray (NOT the 50 shades variety) that is manageable, while we can direct our own course, sometimes our grip on the steering wheel can be fleeting. When we hit a pothole, exhale, and try not to run off the road. White knuckle syndrome no bueno.
So turn apprehension of what is unknown (of which there is plenty in running and life) into appreciation of what is. I always take a moment of gratitude before a race that my body is strong, my mind is clear, and I consider the people who have supported or even inspired me in the journey.
Then I think about the no-shows. Those who are too injured, sick, or even dead to be part of the energy and anticipation that only comes at the party that is the start of a race.
So my thoughts will go out to my 25%. But for them, it’s less about overcoming a road block, and more about being OK that this unexpected detour means getting to the next starting point will be even sweeter.
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