The Road to Boston 2013: It just got longer!
A few short days ago, I had just capped off a 145k week with an amazing Winter long run with the BLT crew and during which I had hit a remarkable feat of running over 6000k for the entire year (6012k to be precise). 2012 was a year which by all accounts had been an overwhelming success having achieved PBs in every distance I had raced (5k, 8k, 10k, 10M, HM, 30k, Full). I had a breakthrough at Goodlife (2:36:59) and followed that up with a slightly faster Hamilton (2:36:27); won my first ever race, the Good Friday 10-miler in Burlington, and then another at the MEC 5k Summer Classic; won team relays at the Yonge St 10k, Lindsay Milk Run and was a member of the second place team at the Cabot Trail Relay Race on Cape Breton; and joined a number of good friends and training partners in the formation of a new performance-based running club, 'Black Lungs Toronto.' Indeed, it was an incredible year!
Heading into the new year, I was indeed feeling on top of the world with high hopes and ambitious aspirations for 2013. After weeks of frustration and minor setbacks, I was finally feeling good again and ready to tackle the tough weeks ahead.
Then, on Monday morning, as I embarked on my first run of the day, an easy 8k along the MGT, I became aware of an annoying and distracting sensation somewhere on the top of my left foot. I tried my best to ignore it and managed to get through the run rather comfortably, the pain not becoming any worse as I went. I iced it immediately afterwards and the pain seemed to subside. Later in the day, I joined the group for a hill workout in High Park and again was bothered by this niggling dull pain that didn't really seem to get any better or worse over time but seemed to just be there.
On New Years day, the program called for 16k with a 4k interval at mid-tempo pace and luckily I met a group of BLT team mates along the MGT and got through it, albeit more painfully than the day before. To make matters worse, routine walking was now too becoming an increasingly uncomfortable and progressively painful procedure. I again rested, iced, and elevated and hesitantly hoped that things would improve.
Waking on Wednesday, I was immediately reminded of the problem with sharp shooting pain in the midfoot following any and all weight bearing activity (ie standing and walking around). I now knew that this was serious and all signs and sources seemed to suggest a sad similar fate: a stress fracture! For the first time in my running career, I was scared. I called to make an appointment to see a sports physician but was sceptical that a proper diagnosis would be correctly made at this early stage of the injury. I also knew what I would inevitably be told by absolutely everyone: "Stop running." And so just like my friend and teammate Kevin Gough who is also struggling with injury, my mind soon went to the same dark place: "There goes my Boston."
This morning (Thursday) was more of the same and I'm quietly coming to terms with my condition: I am out indefinitely and all training and racing are off, perhaps for a month or more. Unable to even walk comfortably, the depression is likely to set in as I begin to place blame for being in such an unfortunate position. Of course the fault is all my own. Too fast, too far, too much, too soon. 145k following an 80k week. Foolish to the nth degree! The conditions didn't help either: the cruel cold, wet and windy, slippery and slushy, harsh and hard. Winter running is tough even at the best of times. I also can't help but suspect a new pair of shoes, Saucony Kinvara 3s, may have played a part, having had no issues before introducing this pair into the rotation. Not enough mid and forefoot support compared to what I'm used too. All factors combined, it was a perfect storm and only a matter of time.
Trying to be smart and sensible about the situation, I am placing myself on the running DL (disabled list) for the time being. I will wait to get a professional opinion and official diagnosis before weighing my options and predicting/planning where my season goes from here. I fully intend to run Boston on April 15th but will likely have to adjust my goals if I miss any significant amount of training. This morning I tested the stationary bike at the gym (dry, warm, windless...nice) and was able to do that painlessly and so hating the pool and the elliptical, spinning will be my new substitute.
As runners, we all fear the prospect of being sidelined by serious injury and being prevented from doing that which we love. We must however realize that after persistently pushing our bodies to the brink of its physical limits in order to improve, that eventually we may push too far and find ourselves on the wrong side of our own limitations, and in my case, humbled and hobbling with a far too long road of recovery and rehabilitation ahead.
The Road to Boston 2013. 15 weeks to go. Uncertainly and an uphill battle await.