Baring My Boot + My Newest Running Injury

Fall fashion: boot + retro Saucony. It's a do in my book.
Fall fashion: boot + retro Saucony Jazz. It's a "do" in my book.

Ok, it’s time for me to come clean. For the past three weeks, I have been clomping around in a boot—the same hot, black boot that I’ve been lucky enough to clomp around in a couple times since 2007.

Unlike the previous two times—stress fractures, both—I am blessed with a new-to-me injury. A plantar plate strain; likely grade 2, if you want to play along. It feels like a bundle of torn, angry nerves under the ball of my right foot, mostly under my second and third toes. It flares up randomly—lying in bed, sitting at the computer, whenever it feels like it—even though I’ve been booted for 3 weeks. (It’s been my experience with stress fractures that when you put it in the boot, it shuts its little fractured mouth. Not the case with this lovely.)

I first noticed the flare after an 18-miler on Sunday in San Diego. I had walked on the beach barefoot for an hour on Saturday and Monday, and then, even though I was cognizant of significant pain I hadn’t felt before, I, like a stupid mother runner, ran. Because the beautiful trails of Torrey Pines were so close and I just had to run there on Tuesday. “So close” turned out to be 9 miles round-trip, putting me at 27 miles in 3 days. Who did I think I was? I usually average around 18 miles a week.

So I came home, complained to Grant that something was wrong with my foot, and then guess what? I ran again. Yep, line me up for a MacArthur Genius Grant. Six or so miles on a group trail run with a swift Strava crew: too much fun for me to miss, I rationalized.

Everything that's wrong with my right foot, minus the arch.
Everything that's wrong with my right foot, minus the arch.

To be fair, too many miles was likely my tipping point. My right foot is my Achilles heel: I’ve had (failed) bunion surgery, a neuroma removed, a broken fourth toe, and arches so high, you could drive a semi under them. “You’re not genetically blessed,” the podiatrist noted. And climbing, which I did for miles and miles to prepare for Pikes Peak Ascent, is good for the joints, but it’s a lot of pressure on the ball of the foot, especially one that isn’t genetically blessed.

On the Strava run, I got to run with trail running star Sage Canady (in the green in back) could I resist?
On the Strava run, I got to run with trail running star Sage Canady (in the green in back) could I resist?

Anyway, that trail run on October 9 was the last time I ran.

I would’ve come clean a few weeks ago, but I had Saucony 26Strong, and 26.2 miles in Philadelphia with Kelly Pollock on my mind, and I can’t overemphasize how much I wanted to run Philly with her. I have coached her since July, and I’ve mentally put us on the Philly course so many times, laughing and taking pictures and staying strong, that not following through made me nauseous. I know she's very capable, but I also know she signed up for the full experience. I did too. 

I really thought that if I rested my foot, and swam and biked my butt off, I could, with an 18-miler under my Sauconys, make it to race day and be there for Kelly.

The next morning, Jo (long toes), me (blue tape) and Mason (paw) compared our feet. Mason's are the healthiest.
Jo (pedicure on half a nail), me (blue tape) and Mason (paw) compared our feet. Mason's are the healthiest.

Then I had dinner with Jo, a mother runner from Minnesota whose work brings her to Denver, on Wednesday night. Her plantar plate strain turned into a plantar plate tear that will never go away. We compared symptoms and she sympathized and I cried. She ran way past the place I did, and told me hers got so bad, she wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to walk her dog or hike with her husband again, let alone run. Ugh.

The fact that my foot was a burning nerve under the table as we talked through it all—how feet are ground zero for runners, how marathons drag on for hours and hours, how my heart can’t always lead my brain and body—pretty much convinced me that I shouldn’t run. Then I went back to the podiatrist on Friday morning, and told him how I was leaning. “I’m in full agreement,” he said, “Running a marathon right now could set you back a year.”

I finally called Kelly on Saturday, and finally came clean. She is disappointed, naturally, but took it like a champ, and we’re formulating a plan so she’s supported through every mile. Right now, the plan is that Adrienne Martini, who was already planning to be in Philly, will take on the first 13.1 with Kelly, and then Jo, whose foot is fully healed, will run the final 13.1 with Kelly. (Jo trained for 13.FUN, but hasn't gone the full race distance yet.)

Meanwhile, Kelly’s family was already planning to come to the race, and her 11-year-old daughter, Carly, is hopefully going to join me on a bike as we follow—and cheer for and razz on—Kelly on the course.

That said, I have two questions for this mother runner tribe:

1. To keep our bases covered, wondering: are you running the full marathon in Philly, and are you anticipating a 5:15ish finish? Similarly, if you're running the half and anticipating a 2:35 finish? Either one? Please email us at runmother [at] gmail [dot] com.

2. Do you live in Philly and happen to have bikes and helmets Carly and I could use? I am almost 6’4” and Carly is 4’5”, but we can be flexible on sizes (especially me).

Ideally, they’d be cruisers or something easy to pilot. I have poked around for bike rentals in Philly, but lining up a bike for early Sunday morning doesn’t look to be super easy. If you have a bike—or a rental recommendation (we’re staying downtown, near the starting line)—please email me at runmother [at] gmail [dot] com.

As for me, I feel mentally better baring my boot. I wish I could say the same for my physical self, but I haven't felt any real progress, healing-wise, so far. So I'm staying in the boot until at least Thanksgiving when I'll reevaluate. I've got a new pair of orthotics being crafted—they've been key for Jo feeling better—and I hope to be able to put in a few miles again by the time the calendar turns to 2015.

Posted on Kelly's blog yesterday. Sucker punch to the gut from me, but you've got the Eye of the Tiger, KP!
Posted on Kelly's blog yesterday. Sucker punch to the gut from me, but you've got the Eye of the Tiger, KP!

I've got no time to dwell, though. I've got bikes to track down, signs to make, and good vibes to send to Kelly as she heads into taper madness. You've still got this, KP—and I'm still with you every step of the way, friend.

Let's show Kelly we've got her back: please give her tips for taper madness at bay—and please chime in if you can help us in Philly. Thanks so much.

42 responses to “Baring My Boot + My Newest Running Injury

  1. Aww I am so very sorry to hear this. I admit one of my biggest fears about being a coach is getting injured or not being able to pace Jodi the way that best works for her!! Certainly I’m putting in the miles, but I want that day to be so special for her and I know you are bummed.

    But I’m glad you’re also showing everyone how to be smart enough to step back instead of “no pain no gain”.

  2. Dimity, I’m so sorry to hear about your foot! Hope you are able to get out of the boot around Thanksgiving and that you have a great recovery. I’m in the same snazzy boot on the same foot thanks to a calcaneus stress fracture during my training… mine comes off on Dec 4 if all goes according to plan. I’ve been swimming, biking, and strength training as well, and I’m calling it all “cross training,” to keep myself reminded of the ultimate goal- to run healthy again!
    It’s awesome that Kelly will have such an amazing and organized support group along the way- she’ll do great!

  3. So sorry to hear the news about your foot, Dim. It makes me sad for you just knowing your desire to be right there with Kelly every step of the way. And injuries are just hard. I just want to run over some peanut m&m’s and a balloon and maybe some really awesome washi tape or something to style up that boot. I think it is a wise choice to step back. Hard, but wise. Heal well!

    Kelly, you have such an amazing tribe wishing you the best! Hang in there for the taper, I hear it is a bit crazy making. Can’t wait to hear your race report!

  4. And Kelly! Jo is AWESOME! I met her and her mother runner crew when I traveled to twin cities marathon in 2013! She is an amazing lady! She can tell you all about our crazy mother runner connection! Go get it girls!

  5. Doing the half in philly for the second time. we are anticipating a little faster finish than that. hoping of 2:15. we will be around if she needs moral support or someone to talk to in line waiting to pee at the start! Hope to see you on the course..and hoping the weather warms up before then!!!

  6. Dimity , I am so sorry to hear this. You had been injury free for so long. Definately the right call to sit this one out. Kelly will Rock the marathon! So awesome you will still travel and be bike support! I wish I were closer I would totally run this for you! Take care of yourself. I am pretty sure “fat m&m’s” have healing powers

  7. Kelly, you’ve got this. Wish I was closer! I’ll be running my 1st in Richmond this weekend.

    Dimity, Hope you have a speedy recovery.

  8. Dimity, I have only in the past few days been diagnosed with Plantar Plate Dysfunction. So I feel your pain…literally and figuratively. Thirty years of running wear and tear, poor genetics (like your podiatrist said…), and here I am. I bought some Hokas at his suggestion, and am managing it, with hopes it doesn’t turn into something I need surgery on. Your post is reminding me not to rush things. I haven’t run since RnR Denver, and am so jonesing a peaceful, soul-cleansing run. Please keep us posted on your progress. Swim and bike! It’s your salvation right now! May the Healing Force be with you.

  9. Ugh! I’m so sorry! Foot pain is the worst. I walked around in pain for nearly a year before my surgon figured out I was dislocating bones in my feet. Within a month of seeing him I had my first of three surgeries and a long healing process. I’ll never take my feet for granted again. You are doing the right thing for you and Kelly! Sending healing vibes your way.

  10. GOOD LUCK KELLY!!!!! I just ran my first full and I ran it alone – except not really because so many people cheer!!! Have fun, enjoy the experience, and seriously … Running solo makes you totally badass!!!!

    PS dimity – that SUCKS sorry

  11. I’m sorry, I had a partial tear in the plate in the spring and I was able to fun the 13.1 in October but wear a splint when I run anything longer than 3 miles. I still feel it and it sucks but it does get better.

  12. Dimity, I am so sorry!! My heart just sank as I read your post. 🙁 I’m sure you’ll be a great source of support and encouragement to Kelly during the race. I hope your foot heals quickly and you’re back to running in 2015.

    BTW, I love those retro Saucony’s!

  13. Oh Dimity! I’m so sad for you and for Kelly too. But wow, what a great plan you’ve come up with. I’ve loved having friends bike with me at points during my 26.2 endeavors. Kelly, don’t feel bad if you can’t speak to your biking buddies in the last few miles. They know that you’re happy just to have them there!

    As for taper madness…trust the taper! I’ve run 10 fulls and dozens of halves and even with my most recent half I started to get nutty and think I should be running more and faster than I was on the Own if Plan. I held fast to the plan and shaved 7 min off my PR and finally cracked 2 hours. Trust the taper and go kick some butt at your 26.2. I can’t wait to read all about it!!

  14. Dimity, my heart aches for you but the healing begins now. You’ve made a great plan for Kelly and she’s going to do well. Now that the boot is out of the closet, you must be relieved a little mentally. No Dimity by your side, Kelly but a bonus is two new running friends and connections forever.

  15. Oh Dimity I am so sorry to hear this! I too am in a boot, recovering from bunion surgery done a week and a half ago. Messed up feet are a huge bummer…. But smart decision on your part to back off and heal. One race is not worth messing up your foot forever. Take care, my friend.

  16. Y’all are simply the best and thank you all so much for the kind words and support. I have a very tight group of BAMRs I run with regularly so running alone was scaring me but now, I won’t have to! I am super slow so I am sure to see every last one of you out on the course since I’ll be going by at the snail’s pace!

  17. So sorry to read this, Dim. Kelly, I’ve been following your training and am confident you’re ready to run Philly with tens of thousands of your new running buddies! I’m just running the half, but plan to hang around to cheer on marathon runners. If you see anyone sporting a Pineland Striders t-shirt, say hi — we’re a motley but friendly running club.

  18. I am running Philly too..and now have come down with a painful knee injury of some sort! Going to see an ortho and a myotherapist, but am resigning myself to not being able to run. I will still go to cheer on my group of friends that I have trained for this race for the past 4 months. I will be terribly disappointed for myself, but thrilled to watch them cross the finish line. Might need to rent a bike for myself to follow them around the course.

  19. Oh, Dimity. 🙁 I’m so sorry. Injury stinks!! I loved, loved, loved the Philly marathon, and I wish I could be there again this year. Unfortunately my injury, which I ignored for about a year, has caused my entire year to be turned upside down!
    I love all of the BAMR support on here, though! So happy to see people helping you out! And I can’t wait to see you and SBS in Pittsburgh!

  20. Kelly I wish I ran at your pace. I am running the full and it will be my first one too! But I am a bit faster than a 5:15 finish (assuming everything goes according to plan hoping for between 4:30 and 4:45). I’ve done all my long runs with my MRTT buddies and am nervous about covering the distance without their support. Best of luck to you!

  21. Kelly!! You’ve totally got this!! I so wish I could pop out to Philly to help cheer you on, but it sounds like you have an amazing group to rally around you there and now you have the WHOLE BAMR TRIBE rooting from everywhere! Dimity, I’m praying for your recovery. Injuries just suck. Be gentle with yourself and know we’ve all got Kelly’s back, and yours too.

  22. Being injury prone this year, my heart just breaks for Dimity and Kelly. Kelly know that everyone here will be cheering you along! So glad that there are folks who will run with you! Be will and kick booty!

  23. Mmmmmm. Adam Levine. And corgis. What could be better?

    Looking forward to being your boat anchor on the first leg of your marathon. I wouldn’t want you to go out too fast, right? 😉

  24. Kelly! So excited to meet you and run together – we can talk about The Voice (assuming you’re watching to keep up on Adam!) and if you’re in the mood to talk! 🙂 I know Dimity really agonized over the decision but having her and your daughter cheering along on a bike – awesome, too! You’ve done all the training, nailed your runs and have worked so hard, Philly will be your well deserved victory lap – thanks for letting me tag along!
    See you soon!

  25. Kelly and dear Dim….will be sending you vibes from Jersey. Have loved following along as you get ready for Philly. Kelly, you’ve got this! You can do it! And healing vibes to you, Dim. Very difficult but smart decision.

  26. Sending good vibes to both of you!! I can tell you, having a support person ride along with you on the route is amazing. My friend and I during our first full had her friend follow us for the last half of the race on a bike and she was amazing and most likely what got us through. She biked ahead to water stations, filled our bottles, told us funny stories, reminded us not to say anything and save our energy – it was amazing – and hopefully something that works out for Dimity and Kelly.
    Kelly, you’ve got this girl!!! Dimity, speedy recovery to you – know you are doing the right thing for the long term.

  27. I”m so sorry to hear about your foot issues. My boot and I have a love hate relationship too, most recently spending quality time together in the spring. It’s so hard to be injured. I’m glad to hear you have a back up plan and still plan to be there Philly. I had to DNS (my first evah!) a half in the spring, but went to spectate and cheer on my friends. It was a blast! Almost as good as running it…

  28. Hang in there, Kelly! I am among the maddest of the mad during taper, especially this far into cold and flu season! Take it easy, listen to your body, drink gallons of emergen-c or airborne, and see if you can find a plastic bubble to surround yourself with, and you’re going to be great! Sounds like you’ve trained to perfection 🙂

  29. I will not be in Philly but how I wish I was! (Where is a mother runner fairy godmother when you need one?!?) I think it’s brave and smart to make this decision. I hope you heal WELL and in good time. Best wishes to you and Kelly. Go get ’em, tiger.

  30. We know you’ve made the right decision! You’ve got to take care of yourself. I’m excited to meet Jo and, of course, I love Martini Friday’s and Adrienne and I can talk about our love of all things Corgi (I’ve had 4). As for sign inspiration, anything that mentions Adam Levine, David Beckham or beer would surely motivate me! If I can just stay out of my head for the next 13 days, we’ve got this covered!

  31. Kelly, you are going to rock Philly and the tribe will be sending so much physical and virtual support you will feel it every step!

    Tips for taper:

    Also, AMR had one of my favorite experts on – Sage Rountree – talking about Racing Wisely (her book, my go-to before every race along with some other logistic prep and mental training) – the podcast might be worth a re-listen

    Dim – a real bummer, so sorry for this news. You are handling it like a champ.

    My best to you both…

  32. Even though it was not my plan, I am signed up for the half and would be more than happy to run the 1st half with Kelly if the plan with Adrienne falls through! It would be a pleasure to help her with her 1st marathon!

  33. Dimity:I’m 5’11” and have a Jamis hybrid (mountain bike frame with road tires). I’m about an hour out of Philly, but if you can’t find anything nearby, I’ll make the trip (plus I’d love to cheer on my local peeps who are running).

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