This post was supposed to be about my last 20-miler - the fact that, although it started out with a dark cloud of negative thoughts (I don't want to be doing this again; I've run enough 20-milers; I can't possibly have to pee already; my hands are cold; my legs feel like lead; why do I need this stupid PR in Boston anyway) I was able to turn it around at about the 6- or 7-mile mark, and finished strong. It wasn't quite as awesome as the previous 20, but it was certainly good enough.
It was also supposed to be about how the excitement is building so tremendously at this point, and how all I can think about is Boston. About how distracted I am, and alternately elated and terrified (and by alternately, I mean my brain goes back and forth roughly every 2 minutes).
And it was supposed to be about how happy and how relieved I was to come home from my 13-miler yesterday morning - a great 13 that began with this amazing view of the sunrise over the ocean and that ended with me crossing off the final workout of week 14 of my 16-week plan. A 13 that, once completed, signfied the end of the most intense phase of my training and the beginning of my two-week taper.
It was supposed to be about how, as much as the taper can make you crazy, I am so happy that it's here, because mentally, I'm done with the insanely hard track workouts and the challenging tempo runs. I'm done with the 3-hour-long runs every weekend, and with having to hit a specific pace every single time I go out for a run. I'm done with getting up at 4:30am to be on the treadmill at 5am. Done with all that, and ready to get on to the good stuff and put all this training to the test.
That's what it was supposed to be about.
Instead, it's about my foot.
Several weeks ago, after a long run, I felt a sore spot on the top of my left foot. I've had this happen before as a result of having my shoelaces tied too tight, and I figured that's what it was again. So I didn't freak out.
And I noticed that it only really hurt when I had my running shoes on - not in any other shoes. And since I wear orthotics in my running shoes, I suspected that the added thickness from the orthotics was causing my foot to be more snug in the shoe, and adding to the soreness.
So I decided I'd try my next run without the orthotics, and presto - the soreness was gone.
I did a few runs without them, and all seemed well. Problem solved? If only it were that easy.
The orthotics were prescribed to help alleviate a chronic shin injury that had kept me sidelined for almost the entire summer a few years ago, and as I continued to run without them, the shin started acting up. So back in went the orthotics. And back came the foot pain.
I've gone back and forth like this for the past couple weeks, and it seemed very clear that running without the orthotics resulted in foot soreness after the run - never during the run, and never really sore unless I pressed on the top of my foot.
But then I ran without the orthotics yesterday, and during the last mile of the run, I felt some foot pain. It wasn't a sharp pain, and it came and went, but it was definitely there, despite not having the orthotics in.
So now I'm freaking out. Anyone who's ever googled "top of foot pain" can tell you that almost every single link that comes up contains the words "Stress fracture."
And anyone can also tell you that if you have a stress fracture, you are NOT running a marathon.
I already had an appointment scheduled with my podiatrist for this Thursday, because I wanted him to check the orthotics and see if they need to be adjusted. And yesterday, there was a period of time where I was thinking that I was just going to cancel the appointment and press on with my training and run the race and deal with this afterward - obviously in complete denial that something could be really wrong.
And while I'm still hoping that it isn't something really wrong, I'm also thinking more clearly today. I will go to the podiatrist, and I will get his opinion on this, and I will follow his advice - even if that advice is to not run Boston.
My heart breaks to even think about that possibility. I know that may sound crazy and overly dramatic to some people, but I have poured my heart and soul into these past 14 weeks of training, and I have worked too hard, and come too far, and am running so, so well right now. To have to give up all of that would be devastating.
I know it's just a race. And I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor inconvenience, and there are so many people in the world dealing with true hardship and challenges, and that I need to keep it all in perspective - and believe me, most of the time, I am. But other times I'm not.
Because this also is really not just a race. It's a marathon. And it's not just a marathon - it's BOSTON.
And I'm poised to not only run it, but run it really well, with a really good shot at a huge PR - something that, while not meaningful to some people, is very meaningful to me. It represents months of hard work, and months of going out and completing workouts that I didn't want to do, and months of overcoming obstacles that I didn't think I could overcome, and months of constantly pushing myself to do more and be better than I was the day before, and months of proving to myself that if I work hard, I can achieve goals that once seemed utterly impossible.
And it's all been in anticipation of the big payoff - that finish line on Boylston Street. The finish line that I now worry I may not cross in 2 weeks.
Obviously this is all speculation, and I won't know anything until I get in to see my doctor. But as much as I hope and pray that I'm very, very wrong and that two weeks from now, I'll be proudly wearing my first Boston marathon finisher's medal, I also feel that I need to prepare myself for the possibility that I won't.
So the normal taper crazies, which don't typically set in for me until the end of the first week, have already begun in earnest. And all the excitement and enthusiasm and optimism that's been keeping me going through these last few tough weeks of training have all but evaporated.
I'm going to remain kind of in limbo until Thursday. Limbo's not a fun place to be, but it's where I'm at, and I just have to deal with it the best I can. Think good, healthy foot, non-stress-fracture vibes for me, if you could.