It is a couple days before Christmas, which means, less than a week until the year of the half marathons ends. I set many goals. The first being to run a half marathon last January. From there, I set a goal of running 13 half marathons this year, because how cool would it be to run 13 races of a 13.1 distance in 2013?
And now that the year is up, although I backed out of the last 2 half marathons that I had purchased entry into for December, I can see that this year has been a successful first full year as a runner.
Not only did I meet and surpass my goal of 13 half marathons by completing SIXTEEN of them (in SIX different states, no less), I also was able to complete ONE 10-miler race, SEVEN obstacle course races at various distances, and ONE 5K.
But my heart still breaks when I think about having to withdraw from the last two races of this season (the Palm Beaches Half Marathon, and the Live Ultimate South Beach Half Marathon). I feel like a failure for not starting those races because I have always reminded myself during races that dead last place is better than not finishing, which is better than not even starting. In my mind, not even starting is one of the worst things that I could possibly do as a runner. I'm ok with other people not starting races, but for me, that is just unacceptable.
Even though I have good reason, and logically I know it was a wise decision (something I probably should have considered before December), I struggle with feeling like a failure.
Where we left off in this blog, I was talking about the Space Coast half marathon, and the incredible pain I felt in my right foot. Up until that point, I had been seeing an orthopedic specialist to treat my foot and closely following his orders. I wore a boot. I stayed off of it when he told me to. I took my medications religiously. I got back into walking and then running just like he had suggested. And I believed him.
I returned to the doctor multiple times for follow-ups, and to see if I was a candidate for cortisone shots (which he told me wouldn't be useful). And finally, back in early November, I accepted what he said, and became resigned to the fact that he thought that the swelling had gone down and this was as good as it would get and I was just in pain from trying to get back out there and on it again.
But I still noticed things. Like the fact that when I took photos of my feet, I could clearly see that the swelling was not gone. The fact that I couldn't weight-bear for much more than a few minutes without needing to sit. The fact that I hurt WAY more as the day progressed, rather than hurting more in the morning (as is customary with residual plantar fasciitis as he claimed I had). And the fact that at random times I was still getting shooting pains through both my heel and the outside of my ankle.
I wanted SO badly to be fixed, that I believed everything I was told. Even when people near and dear to me pushed me to get a second opinion. Part of that (I am sure) was pure stubbornness... but the larger part of that was that I was trusting my doctor. He, after all, is an expert. He's supposed to know things. We are supposed to trust our doctors.
But after Space Coast, I knew that I needed to do something different. Whereas I had been feeling as if I had been getting better for awhile, the day before the half marathon, I just couldn't deny that I was actually getting worse. I had spent so much time putting on a happy face, trying to be strong (like the beast that I really wanted to be), and hiding what was really going on... and finally it was too much to hide. Husbeast noticed. Two of my dear running friends noticed. And they staged (what I can only describe as) and intervention. It was time for a second opinion. With a doctor that specializes in feet.
I went for the appt, he did xrays and an ultrasound, and he immediately put me in a much larger and much more archaically torturous boot. I was under strict orders to stay off of it until I could get a new MRI.
The MRI and followup were the next week, and because my dad was in town (and had also been pushing for me to get a second opinion), like I was a six year old with a sore throat, he marched me right into the appt, and waited for the verdict (poised to take notes to relay back to Husbeast).
And whereas there had been a laundry list of problems evident on the last MRI, the good news was that the list was shorter... Only TWO main problems.
The sheaths around the fascia on the inside of my heel were still incredibly inflamed, and there is a huge pocket of inflammation in the outside of my ankle between the bones. Two separate, but perhaps related injuries.
The good news is, that with the assistance of the ultrasound machine, he could give me the cortisone injections that I had so desperately wanted months ago. This was absolutely a nightmare, and I am getting flashbacks just thinking of it so I wont go there in this post, but I got the shots.
And then I went right back into the boot. And have been ordered to stay off of it until my followup on December 27th. I asked if he thought I would be able to be out of the boot by the end of the month because I had some training to get in before my first full marathon in January. He smiled sadly at me and said that he can't know until we get there. But he said that while his body language clearly told me no.
So there we have it. Why I have been so sad the past few weeks. Not only have I been struggling with this injury while being confined to the couch or a chair, but I have been fighting my own demons. I had a goal to do this full marathon, and now I can't. Even when I was mediocre about WANTING to do this race, I had a goal, and I don't take that lightly. What's more, I roped a dear friend into doing it with me when she clearly didn't want to do it in the first place. And now I can't. It's not even that I want to do it. But I made a commitment to her. And I don't take commitments lightly.
So there you have it. Me, not just feeling like a failure to myself, but what's worse, feeling like I have let down other people in the process too. I don't share that because I need a pep talk or anything. I don't need people to lift me up and make me feel better. I feel like crap. And I deserve to feel like crap.
The silver lining to it all though, is that if I don't do the marathon, that gives me more time to heal, which will allow me to do the next big thing. Another 5 races in 5 days in 5 states. Don't worry though, I have time to heal, that isn't for months and months yet. And when I'm back in the game, I will be better than ever. I've come so far already in this journey, I can get my head (AND my body) back in the game. Just looking at my wrist tells me so.