I did it again. I cannot seem to stop the avalanche of problems that seems to grow and grow each time I try to do something.
I ran in the Ragnar Relays this past weekend, starting the run at 11 am Friday morning at the library in Branford and running with my teammates to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. I ran three legs of the race, starting with the third leg Friday afternoon. I ran in my Vibram 5-fingers, thinking that this should be a good time to run easy in them. It was pretty warm by the time that I started but not so bad that it was oppressive. I actually enjoyed the temperature while I was running. Unfortunately my Achilles did not think it was so enjoyable. The leg was 6.8 miles long and by the time I got through 2.5 miles of that, I had a dull ache in the heel of my foot. It got worse. By the time I had finished, the pain was radiating up the back of my leg in my calf.
I strapped a cold pack on the foot and swallowed a couple of ibuprofen tablets and hoped for the best. My teammates were concerned whether I would be able to run again, but I told them not to worry, I would keep up my end of the bargain and still run my legs. I was also supposed to run another leg due to another runner having to drop out beforehand due to injury. I was not so sure about that one. I did not have to worry, since the team captain made an executive decision and took that leg away from me. It was a good thing that happened.
The second leg that I was running was 7.6 miles long. I did not wear the Vibram's, but instead wore a pair of shoes without the insoles. My leg started around 11 pm which was nice with a half-moon in the sky, mostly clear skies and comfortable temperatures. My heel hurt from the start, very painful in the heel and up into the calf. It took about half the run until I could figure out how to reduce the pain. I shortened my stride (about half of my normal stride) and it helped immensely! I was able to run the rest of the run pretty well, with the only problem being on the downhills, where my stride wanted to lengthen naturally. I just had to concentrate on keeping it short.
The third leg occurred at 6 am Saturday morning. What a beautiful morning for a run! It would have been that much better if I could have actually run normally. Nothing I did produced any relief from the pain. I had put some Sports Cream with heating on the heel before the run, I started running with a shorted stride right away and I had taken another couple of ibuprofen before the run. Nothing helped. The van with my teammates had parked at the half-way mark of the run (6.4 miles total) but just before I saw them, I had been telling myself that I was going to give it up when I did meet them and let someone else run for me, because the pain was that great. But when I crested the small hill and saw them parked there, the only thing that came out of my mouth was, "Nope, I am doing fine. See you at the end". Just like me, stubborn jackass! I could not let someone else finish something that I had started.
So I finished. I was cooked. The heel felt like it was on fire and the calf felt like someone had shoved a knife in it and was continually moving it around. I have not gotten much better since then. I am right now wearing an ice pack wrapped around the heel/calf. When I got up this morning, the heel was quite swollen and very, very tender and tight. My plans to run this coming weekend at Nipmuck are shot. I am pissed off about that as I was really looking forward to a good trail run. I am not going to schedule any races for the rest of the year. I have to get healed, healed to the point where I do not get injured running in a race. The one thing that I already have scheduled is the Lake Winni relay, which I will use as a goal and when I run it, a barometer for how I am doing. As much as I do not want to, I will probably forgo doing any ultras this year (unless late in the year when hopefully everything is going well). I have my annual physical (once every five years or so) scheduled for tomorrow and I will see if the doctor will send me for some physical therapy. I have to get back to what I love, the woods either by myself or with some fellow trail runners. I have to renew my efforts to stay off the roads. I have to stay sane.