The news is not great, guys. Mr. T may have summed it up best tonight while trying to console me.
“Marathon: 1. Mom: 0.”
I realize that doesn’t sound like consoling, but you had to be there.
I met with Coach Tony Williams today. I contacted him on Tuesday night to see if he could be a resource for an article I want to write and he called me on Thursday. He said he read my blog and he wanted to talk to me about my calves first. He was concerned and insisted on meeting with me about the pain I was feeling in my lower legs.
Today, I was able to arrange to drive out to his business: Always Running in Seattle. Here’s what his Web site says about him: “Tony graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Psychology in 1989. While attending Virginia Tech he won the NCAA Division I All-American honors in both the 10,000 meter and cross country events. Tony became a Nike sponsored athlete in 1984, maintaining that sponsorship until 1997. In 1996 he completed the US Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials. He has completed numerous races of all lengths. His various PR’s are: Marathon – 2:22:00, half marathon – 1:05:05, 10K – 28:55, 5K – 14:10, and continues to coach others in reaching their goals while maintaining his training. Tony stopped competing on a elite level in 1999 but still runs 30-40 miles per week.”
He looked at my feet, calves, IT band. He pushed his fingers into the plantar muscles on my feet and showed me what I should do to strengthen them. He gave me a brief and painful massage on both calves, commenting on how extremely tight my right one was and that my left wasn’t so bad (absolutely reflects the way they feel). He had me roll out my outer thighs (IT band) on a foam cylinder. It hurt and took my breath away, but he said since I didn’t scream, they’re probably just sore. I do have shin splints, which I have suspected over the last couple of days.
He noticed my right leg is shorter than my left — a half inch, he thinks. He also thinks this is why my right foot has an arch and my left one is basically flat.
The pain I’m feeling could stem from one or all of those symptoms. Or, they may be a product of one another. It’s hard to pinpoint. But I shouldn’t be in pain. Something’s not right, and it can lead to injury.
Based on the way I flinched and after looking at past runs and when the pain started and when it became unbearable and hearing about my health history and life schedule, he told me what he thought, which was, basically: don’t run the marathon. He said if it were him, he would not do it. Or, I could suffer my way through it and then be injured and have to go to physical therapy for 6 months or more.
I kept it together. I didn’t cry.
Then he watched me run outside. Just a quick down-and-back on the sidewalk. It wasn’t far at all, but I have not run since Monday, and my lower legs hurt.
I already knew I had a wobbly run — lopsided. Heather pointed it out when we first started running together in the fall. But I didn’t know it was so pronounced. Coach Tony demonstrated what I looked like. To be honest, I think it looks like I’m injured. I basically strike the ground with the ball/toes of my right foot and my heel on my left foot.
We stood outside on East Greenlake Avenue and talked for a long time after that. It was about 70 degrees and sunny today, and it was nice to be outside, even if I was finding out the difficult truth. There was an occasional breeze, just enough to make the whispy hairs that escaped my ponytail swirl around my cheeks. There were people running and walking and cycling everywhere around Greenlake. And a steady flow of Coach Tony’s clients checked in at Always Running.
He just wanted me to understand that I can ruin having a future of running I’m not careful now. I get that. It makes sense. I did too much, too fast. And my herniated disc and leg and foot issues don’t help. Coach Tony talked a lot about building strength and distance slowly and safely. Build, then back off, build, then back off. And do things that aren’t as hard on the body as running: like biking.
Eventually, I asked, “What about doing the half instead?”
He thought that might be okay, but he said it’ll probably take more than 7 days for my calves to heal up. Meantime, I can ride the recumbent bike. He also recommended his go-to podiatrist.
My meeting with Coach Tony today happened for a reason. I know it did. And I’m going to do the right thing. The smart thing. Be a responsible adult. Stay healthy. There are people that depend on me, you know. But it’s hard to accept that I won’t be achieving my dream on June 6. And if I think about it too much, I cry. Stupid marathon. Why do I have to love running so much?
Coach Tony did suggest maybe doing Portland in the fall, or take a couple of years and really train correctly. There’s a lot going on in my head right now and I don’t quite know what I’m going to do. For now, I’m going to lay out my gym clothes and download a good book on my new Kindle for an early morning bike ride.