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Oh the horror

Thursday, October 08, 2015

I should have known……when my plantar fasciitis flared up a week before my marathon.
I should have known…..when I was awake for two hours with cramping feet the night before my marathon.
But hope springs eternal!
I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon at the urging of a friend who lives two blocks away from mile 8. He and his daughter encouraged me to come stay with them. Twin Cities is billed as one of the prettiest urban marathons, and I had the opportunity to stay with friends. So I signed up.
I’ve known Jim for years, but we always meet at dance events and rarely have time to just visit, so this was a treat. Jim was a runner for years, but never long distances. A recent hip replacement meant his running days were over, but thankfully not dancing.
Saturday we headed for the Expo, which turned out to be an eye-opening event for Jim. He had no idea it would be so big, or that there would be so much merchandise. I confidently headed to pick up my race packet, and then headed to the one stop I knew I had to make: KT Tape. Thanks to short lines, I soon had my left foot taped up to deal with the plantar fasciitis. On the way out I veered over to running apparel, my eye caught by a bright yellow jacket that should be visible in the darkest of nights. The Twin Cities Marathon logo was just a bonus.
The rest of the day was spent quietly: both Jim and I, it turns out, can be entertained for hours doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku! Then an early dinner, and early to bed, at least for me.
I popped up at 1 am with one foot cramping. I grabbed my water bottle, drank a couple of slugs, took some magnesium, and tried to get back to sleep. The foot kept cramping. So I tried meditating it to sleep – yup, I’ll try anything in a crisis. And then the other foot started. I got up, drank some more, walked around a bit, and got back in bed. I directed calming thoughts towards my extremities and eventually dropped off.
The next morning I felt great, and we headed off to the start, or at least a few blocks away where I was dropped off. The weather was perfect: 45 degrees and partly cloudy.
By 8 am we were off, and everything was going well. I was feeling strong and the PF wasn’t bothering me at all. When I reached mile 8, I was happy to offload my jacket with Jim and carried on. By mile 12, the balls of my feet were aching. Now this is a problem I’ve had in the past two years, usually when I get to mile 17 or so in a race, or mile 21 when training. My podiatrist couldn’t offer any solutions last year other than new orthotics. I briefly considered stopping, but decided I’d soldiered through this problem before and could do so again.
By mile 15, in addition to feet that were really, really hurting, my feet and legs started cramping intermittently. As I reached mile 17, I decided I would walk a lot more. We had passed all the beautiful lakes at this point and were on the river road, headed to the point where we cross over and take the river road towards St. Paul.
As I was running downhill under a bridge, a particularly severe cramp caused my foot to buckle under me, and I slammed down onto the ground. OK, Universe, I get the message: enough.
I couldn’t get up unaided because my feet were cramping so badly, so one volunteer lifted me and helped me over to the side, where another started cleaning up all the cuts on hands and elbows. When I was able to, I got up and stretched the feet and legs until the cramping eased, then called Jim to come pick me up.
In the meantime, a policeman had come by to make sure I was OK, to get my bib number so he could report it to the medics. He kept asking me if I wanted one of them to come over, but I insisted I didn’t.
Five minutes later, we hear sirens down the road, and see the EMTs and a fire engine roar up. The volunteer and I chatted about it, wondering what had happened up there. Next thing I know, they are running down the hill toward me! It seems that someone had said or heard the words ‘chest pain’, and so they dispatched the cavalry. After assuring everyone I was fine and didn’t need anything, I had a sudden inspiration: since I wasn’t going to get a finish line photo (or medal or shirt), would they mind if I got my picture now? Everyone obliged, and so I got my finish line photo.

I know I was in shock, and I didn’t really let myself feel again until my flight landed in Houston the next day. That’s when the tears fell.
As I deal with the aftermath, the scrapes and bruises, the whiplash in my neck, I’m facing feelings of despair, of failure, of fear that I will never again be able to complete a marathon. I’m feeling old, over the hill, and worthless. Until I remember that this was just one of many races (marathon #9), that none of them were easy, and that during this one, one too many circumstances conspired to create a different end for me: a Did Not Finish. Maybe I should have known, maybe I shouldn’t have started. But if I had it to do over again, I would still take that DNF over a DNS!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Oh dear--- that was a bad fall---- Are you over this now?--Lynda
    1583 days ago
    I had that Plantar fasheitis and it lasted--like 4 dos--was awful!--Lynda
    1719 days ago
    You must blog--coz I think yu are STILL in pain--LOL----- Lynda
    1828 days ago
    I would be on cloud nine if I had the stamina to do what you did. Your outlook will keep you going. Yes, our bodies betray us, but we are not "old" until we give up trying. There are many things I could do lots better 2 decades ago. But I still have fun doing them, and have learned, after about a million repetitions, that it is not about a competition, it is about the experience. Rock on, girlfriend, you are far from finished!!!
    1846 days ago
    That last sentence gives all of us encouragement..... you are way ahead of those who never crossed the Start line!!!!

    And I loved your photo with the emergency response team! You are a winner!
    1846 days ago
    that fasheitis (sp?) is awful--I wear shoes inside--- Lynda
    1847 days ago
    "old" doesn't mean yu are worthless----just wise-er!!! Lynda
    1875 days ago
    Congrats! You got 17 miles in and that is amazing! I hope that your feet and legs are feeling much better now. Best wishes!
    1907 days ago
    Hi Dee-- That Plantar foot thing can be bad--It took me about 6 most to get over it--
    And Beau's toe is wrapped---and he is OK_-Lynda
    1907 days ago
    Oh Dee--My heart ached as I read yer blog--Mybe if yu ran backwards eh??--Well, ya never know!-Lynda
    1912 days ago
  • IONA72
    Hope you are feeling better Dee. I had a fall in Jan this year, landed on my face somehow, it really frightened me and I can sympathise with all those thoughts you are having. Its taken a while but I finally got the courage to start running again. You will be fine you have such a lot of experience to draw upon.
    1918 days ago
    Dee, I'm just reading this today and it brought a few tears to my eyes. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade - seeing you smiling and surrounded by all those wonderful, good-looking first responders! What a great idea to make your crisis into a photo opp!

    As for feeling down...I hope you've regained mojo and are feeling more positive about your running future. I don't think about mine much these days but am not resigned to it being over just yet though I haven't run much lately and am not really taking the time to work back into it.
    emoticon and emoticon today!
    1921 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/24/2015 9:22:52 AM
    Hey there, it just was not in the cards that day. Great that you got your photo with the EMTs!

    I too felt the defeat last Saturday as I had to withdraw my horse from competition. I fell off the day before and bruised my tail bone. I just could not 'sit' in the saddle deep enough for the fences. It was a hard decision, and I was really bummed about it, but it was a good decision.

    Hang in there. emoticon
    1931 days ago
    My mobile post did not work, so I had to wait until I was on my laptop to respond to your blog.

    I LOVE the finish picture! What strength of poise you had and a sense of humor to ask for a picture! Love it.

    What a great weekend with a precious friend! You will soon not forget. So there was a small mishap Sunday morning. You did your absolute best at that moment. There are many better bests to come.

    I love that you started the race hoping for the best. I am sorry you got a little beat up in the process.

    I applaud you! thanks for sharing your experience. I do not think it will stop you from trying again.

    1932 days ago
    Rock on, Dee! You were over halfway constantly battling obstacles. Healing of the foot takes a long time. It took me two years to get over PF I had a few years ago in BOTH of my feet. I really though I'd never be normal again! It's so hard to be patient. Now with this Achilles tendon issue, I'm feeling like you....Will I ever be able to run a half marathon again? Most likely, the answer is yes for both of us.

    We will persevere....Hang in there! Maybe one day we can do a race together and celebrate! :D

    1933 days ago
    You have amazing tenacity !!!

    Best wishes for healing and recovery
    1935 days ago
  • DEE797
    Sending HUGS and healing thoughts and prayers to you. Even with all your ups and downs the night before you still headed to the starting line and began the race. WTG!
    1935 days ago
    emoticon but you did it , sorry you had so much pain. Still a winner. emoticon
    1936 days ago
  • NUMD97
    Sorry to read about your pain. You may feel down, but I have a feeling you're not "out".

    Sometimes I get horrible feet and leg cramping pain. My doctor thinks to up the water also, but it's a question of spacing it so I don't take up residence in the bathroom at night. Recently I read the most bizarre thing on the net that helps this: Pickle juice! I don't care if it's a placebo effect or not (maybe it's the salt content?), but twice since I read about it, I was desperate enough to try it. No measurement was given, but four ounces for me seem to do the trick.

    Could it hurt?

    Rest when your body tells you and regroup. There are other marathons to conquer when your body agrees to let you go and do them. Listen to her well, she loves you and wants only what's best for you.

    All the best, Dee, and feel better soon,

    1936 days ago
    I'm sorry you had so much pain and could not finish the race as you desired.
    But it takes extreme persistence and courage to even start a race after the pain and cramps you experienced - and you went 17 miles!
    I hope some rest and gentle treatment will heal your legs soon, and you can find a good balance between fun and health.
    The picture with the paramedics and firemen is super cute.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1936 days ago

    I am so proud of you. With all obstacles, you did it.. Yes, a DNF is an accomplishment. Wishing you a quick recovery and looking forward in hearing about your next race...

    Sharon emoticon
    1936 days ago
    Sounds like a really rough time of it - sometimes that happens, no matter what you do.

    Couple of thoughts:

    Switch to half marathons?

    Different kind of running shoes? Padded socks?

    I get cramping feet at night - I finally untucked the blankets at the end of the bed, and I keep them loose over my feet. Has reduced the cramping by 98% - so worth a try!

    IF you get cramps, one way to stop the cramp is to press under your nose, above your lip, just like for a sneeze - hold it there for a minute or two, pressing - should stop the cramp and also helps prevent that achy feeling that often follows a cramp. It basically interrupts the nerve flow of the cramp, or something like that. (Use your forefinger crossways, to make a bar across that spot. Works really well!)

    And you've done NINE marathons - that's amazing!!!!!

    1936 days ago
    Sorry the marathon didn't the way you had hoped. I'm in awe for your spirit and accomplishment finish or not. The fall was really to bad and scary I'm sure. I just complete my third 5k, and feeling my PF afterwards. Thanks for the inspiration.
    1937 days ago
    Dee, I'm so sorry you had to go through this. You are certainly tougher than I am!
    1937 days ago
    I'm relieved that you were not permanently inured or worse. The symptoms the night before were a warning that your run was ill advised. At some point people have to make allowances for things like age, illness, and medical problems. It doesn't mean that people should give up or label themselves a failure just that they need to change and adapt to current situations. You are only old and useless if you allow yourself to think that way. I have conditions that won't allow me to ever run again and I was a gifted sprinter who won many races decades ago. I would have never ran after a night like yours. It sounds like Jim had adapted very well to his limits. You got off easy this time, hopefully you won't risk permanent injury just to be able to say, "also ran." Your self esteem should be based on more than a race.
    1937 days ago
    1937 days ago
    You are a winner. How about half marsthons? Congrats. Roc
    1937 days ago
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