Monday, March 3, 2008

My name is Tim, and it's been 19 months since my last race...

When I finished the West End 3K on July 27th, 2006, I wouldn't have guessed over a year and a half (and counting) would go by without lacing up the racing shoes. I've certainly done some running. I even had hopes of getting my foot feeling better in time to run the Boulder Backroads Marathon that September. At the time, I was dealing with a neuroma between the 2nd & 3rd toes of my left foot AND possibly a stress fracture in the sesamoid bone in my big toe joint of the same foot.

In layman's terms, my left foot was fucked, and had been for some time. I had dealt with the neuroma off & on since 1993. The stress fracture was new, having been diagnosed in May of 2006. My podiatrist, Dr. Thomas, requested an MRI to determine whether the pain I was experiencing was a neuroma or a stress fracture. The answer basically came back: yes.

So August gave way to September, and with my foot not any better, I painfully decided to take some time off from running. Initially, I gained some satisfaction and fulfillment from some indoor rowing on my Concept2 rowing machine. That lasted for a couple of months, and I decided to ease my way back into some running. My thought was that if my foot was bothered by faster, flatter running, then perhaps I could get by with slower, hillier running. I did some trail runs, and played on my treadmill; experimenting with previously ignored incline levels per GZ's recommendations. This lasted for awhile, but ultimately, while my foot would do OK on the mill, it was never anywhere close to full strength outdoors.

In late spring of 2007, I began a series of 6 alcohol injections into the neuroma, with the goal being the destruction of the nerve. I also began on working on a common struggle of mine - dropping some weight to give my (hopefully) healed foot a break when I returned to outdoor running. As the shots went on (every 2 weeks), the weight gradually dropped off. Upon recommendation from my doc, I gave the foot some time to heal up from the shots (they can cause some tissue damage as well), and started running outside again a bit in late summer/early fall. While I enjoyed some of the running, my foot never felt right outdoors, and I think my big toe was more of the problem. So...back to the treadmill. But as the fall of 2007 wore on, eventually my big toe was bothering me even on the treadmill, and just walking around.

My last run was in early December, 2007, and I've filled that time rowing, riding my recumbent bike, and some elliptical machines. My rowing progressed through January into February, but I did something to irritate my upper abdominal/rib area back on February 8th and am only now getting some quality workouts started up again.

Also on February 8th, I visited an orthopedist in Boulder, Lorri Fulkerson, and based on some x-rays, she diagnosed my left big toe joint as arthritic, with some bone spurs to deal with as well. She told me to check in with my podiatrist, Dr.Thomas, to have some adjustments made to my orthotic to better support/protect that big toe/joint. She didn't tell me not to run in the future, despite the chance my foot might get worse down the road (she's in Boulder, after all, and people play). But she did mention that while I might not be able to run 40 miles/week, I might be able to run 10-15 miles a week. Similar to what GZ had touched on recently re: doctors and running, I refrained from telling her I was hoping for 80 miles/week...

I guess I would say the last few weeks since that appointment have been yet another mourning period for me, as I dealt with the "A word" (arthritis) and the recommendation of heading up to Ft. Collins again to see Dr. Thomas. I had hoped for a MRI, the diagnosis of a stress fracture in the big toe (which I do feel I have - one spot specifically hurts when I press on it), and wearing a cast or a boot for 6-8 weeks. I just want a definitive answer of what will make my foot healthy, pain-free, right. This foot hasn't been right since July 2005, when the neuroma started acting up for the first time in a few years. Since then, I've dealt with the neuroma, the big toe/stress fracture, and achilles pain - all in the same foot.

So I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Thomas for noon this Friday. At this point, I refuse to give up running, and I really have to fight for it.

I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other...

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