Sunday, January 29, 2017

Step on a Crack

Is there no end to the lengths my body will go to prove that I'm a big pansy? I get it, injuries happen. I don't mind the ones that make sense. Here are some nonsensical injuries that have happened to me over the years.

  • I cut myself peeling an orange
  • I injured my knee eating chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant
  • I strained my wrist looking at pictures on the internet
  • I pulled a muscle in my back petting a dog
If I were born a hundred years ago, I'm pretty sure I'd be dead by now. Luckily modern medicine has made it their mission to keep unworthy blokes like myself alive and kicking so that I can bore you with nonsensical gibberish.

The Set-Up
One of the injuries that makes sense are repetitive stress injuries that happen to idiots who do not-so-intelligent ventures. This explains my Achilles tenderness that I've been nursing since September. During the off season, these injuries typically go away unless you find something stupid to keep you moving. For example, I signed up for a running challenge called the 100/100. This means that I pledged to do 100 runs in 100 days. As of this past Thursday, I had run n+1, where n= the number of days since the challenge started. A run is defined as 30 minutes of actually running, no walking allowed. Should you be doing intervals with a passive recovery, then the clock stops until you start moving at a gait where both feet leave the ground along opposite vectors. My average run, thus far, has been 37 minutes and all runs have been longer than 4 miles. This challenge is not for the weak minded. Or for anyone with a brain. Therefore, it's perfect for the likes of me.

This recent Thursday, I was out for a nice morning run (as if you can include the words 'morning' and 'run' in the same sentence and accuse them of being 'nice'). The goal was 5.5 miles of nothing special. Ironically, 'nothing special' is the bread and butter of endurance training. Given 8 runs in a week, 6 of them should be nothing special. And, even better, that number could go as high as 8 and still be listed as high quality training.

Not my foot
At right around the 3 mile mark, give or take a quarter of a mile, I stepped on something. I'm not sure exactly what. It might have simply been a crack in the pavement. It definitely wasn't a dead animal or a downed tree, of that much I'm confident. Said stepping was evidenced by the fact that my foot hit the ground (weird, right?) and that there was a sudden shooting pain in my left foot. For those of you who have studied anatomy, the pain was radiating outward from the the 3rd and fourth metatarsal, roughly 1 inch shy of the phalanges.

Initially, I ignored it and ran on. I assumed it would be similar to the sensation of stubbing one's toe, only further upstream. I expected the pain to subside on down the road. At the 3.75 mile mark, I stopped running and dutifully stopped my watch. Then, I peeled off my gloves. The temps were in the low 40ºs and the wind made gloves necessary. The lack of gloves aided in the loosening of my laces. My foot had taken on some fluid. I walked for a bit, with the watch still stopped, of course.

Crunching the Numbers
My Garmin doesn't normally tell the time of day. I have to specifically ask it for that information as it's typically not important in the context of sport. However, in the real world, I have a job that is ever obsessive about the time of day and gets grumpy when others disregard time's importance (unless, of course, it's a meeting where they are leading...). At the 4 mile mark  I was still walking and fumbling with the Garmin. Note: this is the geographical mark, not the Garmin mark, since the Garmin is not allowed to see me walking. It was clear that I was going to be late. What was not clear was if I could be in the late, but almost acceptable range or if I was going to be late enough that calling off the entire day was the better decision.

How my brain works
Doing maths was a great distraction to the reality of the situation. I pondered that the average person can walk at about 15 minutes per mile. According to the pace manager, I was limping about 19 minutes. Arrival would be about 30 minutes later (because I would likely stop to get the mail as long as I was out), putting me into the potential 'call the day off' category. I made the decision to try and run. At the apex of the tiny hill, I went for it. I turned on the Garmin because I wanted documented evidence that I was putting forth the effort and I'm an idiot by rote. This burst let me hit a pace of about 9:30 per mile, which doubled my previous speed, and lasted for about 3/10ths of a mile. Then, I beeped off, stopped, peeled off my gloves, and readjusted the laces on my ever-constricting left shoe.

It was at this moment, for the very first time in my life, that I wished I ran with a cell phone. I would have called the Wife and begged her to come and get me. Since the Garmin doesn't have a call function, I was stuck obsessing over the ever slowing walking pace and how much time it would take to get home.

Glancing at the time of day, I tried the running thing for yet a 3rd time. This happened between 4.65 and 4.90 miles into the run. The pulse emanating from down yonder made it clear that my best move would be to curl up in a ball and hope someone has pity. Unfortunately, it started to rain. On the bright side, I didn't need to ice my foot. Mother Nature was numbing it for me. Fueled by my need to not freeze to death, I hobbled the last 0.6 of a mile at roughly a 22 minutes pace. Aside: This experience is roughly the same as the average IM run for the Banter. Run a bit. Walk really slowly. Run a bit more. Walk even slower. Repeat until the finish line. /End Aside.

Me, out of the shower
True to my word, I stopped to get the mail. I entered my home, slowly and nearly frozen, at 7:25 am, which is about 30 minutes later than planned. If I hurried, I could make it to work by 8:00-8:10. Late but in the acceptable range. The most obvious problem is that I was incapable of 'hurrying'. I sulked in the ridiculously warm water of the shower, standing on 1 leg. I glanced down to survey the damage. My left foot had swollen to the point of looking like a sewed in structure commonly seen on a Cabbage Patch kid. I considered calling off the day. Then I got dressed, put on a compression sock, and went to work.

The Prognosis
As the day went on, I had no improvement. The swelling didn't increase (probably because it might not have been possible). The pain sure did. I'm assuming that the natural endorphins from the initial experience wore off allowing me to experience the damage in all its glory. Having gone in late, I left early to get an X-ray. I was at least 87% sure that I had some sort of fracture.

I'm of the opinion that "Urgent Care" doesn't live up to its name. There was nothing urgent nor caring about the experience. When you walk in (using the term 'walk' loosely here) and tell them that you may have broken your foot and, as a result, they have you walk (again, loosely) another 3 miles (undocumented, of course, since I didn't bring my Garmin) from one desk to another to another to finally get an X-ray back to the original. At the original, a perfectly able bodied nurse and a physicians assistant give you the news that there is no break in the bone and instruct you to stay off the foot. That shows you how much my 87% certainty means. Then they send you walking (loosely) out to your car without any offer of a mobile assistant device. All done in just under 3 hours. Aside 2: If any young entrepreneurs out there want a business idea, I'd suggest Valet Parking at the Urgent Care. You would have had my money that day. /End Aside 2.

On the bright side, healing is going well. If there's one thing I excel at, it's being an idiot. If there's another, it's embracing my inner sloth. Doing some more maths, I conclude that I could be back running by Wednesday. Next Saturday at the latest. If you don't believe me, re-read what the first thing I excel at is. Should this come to fruition, my metatarsal and my Achilles will both be healed and I'll run myself into a different repetitive stress injury that makes sense by the time race season starts. Hey, you gotta have goals, right?

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