Follow This Mother!

Amy after her first 13.1 (her fave distance) in May 2009

After sweating through record temps in the Boston Marathon, I felt an immediate bond with Amy Bailey, 36, when I read her blog post about running the Cellcom Green Bay Half-Marathon last month. It was one of her slowest halfsies, and race officials shut down the entire course (26.2 and 13.1) shortly after she crossed the finish line. Finding out this mother of one from Green Bay, Wisconsin, suffered from plantar fasciitis for more than a year sealed the deal on our connection. Find out more about this former smoker-turned-runner.

Best recent run: Lately it seems my best runs--those that I actually feel good the whole time and not just the tingly endorphins around Mile 3--come just before the important ones. My last training run before the May 20 Cellcom Green Bay Half-Marathonwas 10 miles of downright awesomeness. Perfect weather conditions--warm sunshine without stifling heat, cool breezes without knock-you-over wind gusts, and zero humidity--are my running BFFs. I’m usually a 9:30-9:40 per mile pace, but I had an average 9:13 pace that day, which is scorching for me. Those types of feel-good-all-the-way-through runs may not come along that often, but when they do--whooooo weeeee!

Kicked cigs: I was a smoker for a little more than 10 years, beginning near the end of high school and continuing through the early part of my 30s. I played volleyball and softball in high school and I have worked out regularly for much of my adult life, but I always had that smoking thing hanging over me. In 2005, I started talking about running a 5K, but didn’t actually sign up for a race until 2007 when we lived in Pennsylvania. In training for my first race ever, the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-mile Run, I figured out pretty quickly that the smoking and running weren’t going to work together. So  in April 2007, I dropped the cigarettes and stuck with the running.

Sweating even before she took a single step at Green Bay half last month

MF’er PF: Oh, a little plantar banter. I could seriously tell you anything about foot pain. Since October 2011, I’ve battled plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I’ve gone to physical therapy, had two very painful cortisone shots, and I purchased The Sock, which I wear to bed every night (sexy and I know it). Like many runners, I found it really hard not to run so the only real “break” I took was a month earlier this year. While I stayed off the treadmill, I made an extra-special effort to get my cardio on in other ways, usually on my NordicTrack. After all that time and effort, I think calf raises were among the things that helped me the most. After learning that plantar fasciitis can be the result of weak calf muscles, I made sure those exercises became a core part of my weekly workouts.

Hot-hot-HOT! The Green Bay Marathon on May 20 was hot with a capital “Oh My God!” Temperatures neared 80 as the race started at 7 a.m. and closed in on 90-something two hours later. That’s hot anywhere, but that’s really hot for this race--and the people, like me, who train for it every year. We train in cold winter months and slightly warmer spring months. I’ve run the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon each year since 2009. It’s an expertly run event, but officials cancelled the race this year after two and a half hours because of the heat and the fact that the medical tent was jam-packed with struggling runners. It made for a heartbreaking situation for those nearing the end who slogged through some horrible conditions only to find that the timing mats had been pulled. I racked up my slowest pace for the course with 2:25:34, nearly a half hour slower than my PR set there in 2010. On top of the heat and the tiredness that comes with it, my trusty over-the-head Sony headphones picked Mile 2 to stop working. I need music to run, especially in a half marathon. Especially in a freaking hot half marathon. I somehow had to entertain myself and dig from the deepest depths of my soul to finish that race. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

Mixing it up: After years of gym memberships, I began investing in equipment for a home gym in the months before my son was born in March 2008. I started with a treadmill and built from there: I now have a Nordic Track, rower, stationary bike, and a few other items. This setup totally works for me; I have zero excuses about getting to workout. I'm an a.m. workout person, waking up before my son and husband get up and before work as a newspaper editor to run, cross-train, bike, anything. I usually always start with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up on the bike just to help wake myself up and get focused on the next 45 minutes or so.

Amy with the men in her life--son, Nolan, and her hubby

Me and my treadmill: I’m not a fan in running in Arctic conditions, which, in Green Bay, is not out of the realm of possibility in the winter months. So that means the treadmill. I have to admit: I don’t mind treadmill running and I regularly use those little speed and incline buttons to change things up. After a mile at a 9:20'ish pace, I usually increase the speed for each mile after that. And, after a few miles, I will drop down the incline. So, ideally, at each mile I’m doing something a little bit different. And since that elusive sub-2 hour half marathon is such a powerful motivator for me, I usually steer toward picking up the pace throughout my runs.

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22 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. So good to hear of others battling PF like me; it’s so easy to fall into the I’m-the-only-one trap. Been fighting it since mid Dec 2011, have done a whole round of treatment at podiatrist including custom orthotics. Nothing has helped a whole lot. Now he says it’s “degenerative” and it will keep coming back unless I have surgery on it. I’m looking into other things, including a second (and possibly third) opinion. Anyone out there have this surgery or know of anyone who has? Did it help/hurt/anything?

  2. I’m joining the PF party. I thought I had PF last year; I was dealing with mild arch (and arch to heel) pain but after taking a Brooks Good Form Running class and switching to a more forefoot strike, I am now dealing with a very painful left heel, like a bruised feeling, almost. It is painful to the touch on the inside of my heel. I am generally an every other day runner anyway, so by the end of the day off, it feels much better, and it doesn’t feel too bad while I run, but after I run it’s quite painful to step on my left heel! I live in Birkenstocks and don’t often go barefoot; I roll my ankles and flex my feet and toes before I get out of the bed in the morning (started doing that last summer and just kept the habit up). I’m thinking about seeing a podiatrist to make sure that I’m not dealing with something more than PF. This pain is really demoralizing!

  3. Been battling PF for over a year now…blah…it’s manageable and I’m still running on it, but it sucks! I too sleep with the “sock” and it helps somewhat…I am doing my best to avoid the shots, but would love the pain to go away! I’m training for the St. George marathon in October and hoping I can make it just fine til then (finger’s crossed )…Here’s to hoping that your goes completely away…as well as mine and everyone else 😉

  4. Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! It’s good to know, I think, that this is an issue for others as well — it can seem like a lonely, frustrating road at times.

  5. Interesting discussion! Been battling PF for one year exactly…finally got a cortisone shot inMarch and I think that absolutely jump started healing. Been receiving Astym (scraping) of the scar tissue, lots of stretches, and my therapist incorporates Pilates moves for hips too. I have not splurged on customs orthotics yet, but I think I may have to. Been slow going…but definite improvements! Just don’t go barefoot!!!

  6. Probably not encouraging to anyone, but I have battled PF for over a decade, and after being able to run again (4 babies, 5 years, 2 times a broken coccyx), I won’t give it up. I tried everything: cortisone, exercise, ice, socks, braces, orthotics, etc. Some helped, but the most difference came with wearing Birkenstocks. Seriously. Thankfully, the Gizehs are cute even if my pedicure doesn’t look the best!

  7. Ug! I’m battlin PF too! Helpful to hear what you’vebeen doing. I have yet to be able to run after 3+ mo off. I will keep the faith & keep up with treatment. Curious – Amy, what type of shoe is working for you?

  8. Go, Amy, go! I appreciate the reminder to get on my Nordic Track. I have fought ITB and it’s at bay right now. I want to train for a half but know that I can’t run more than 3 days a week so the extra cardio on my NT is best. Cheers!

  9. Any advice greatly appreciated!!! (PS – I have also taken the ChiRunning class and totally changed/improved my running form. I no longer have pain when I’m running but it persists….)

  10. Sooo…I can’t figure out exactly how to contact Amy, but I would really like to know whether she has actually BEAT the PF and if so, what did it. I’ve been fighting it since Dec 2011 and although I’ve finally found the secret to running WITH PF and WITHOUT pain…(custom orthotics inside a Newton running shoe)…I still haven’t beat the PF! I see a sports chiro twice weekly and he has tried every single trick in the book (dry needling, ART, FAKTR, scraping, etc.) . I do numerous stretches and calf and foot muscle-building exercise every day and I cross train regulary with weight lifting, biking and swimming. Does Amy or anyone else out there have suggestions for something else I could try to get rid of this? I’m managing it…but I really want to get RID of it!!!!

    1. Holy cow, Jana! You could write a plantar book! I guess you could also call me a PF manager. It’s not totally gone, but I have gone back to a pair of Brooks that don’t cause any foot problems (and that’s after investing in custom orthotics, which didn’t help at all). So maybe it’s worth checking a few different kinds of shoes? Just a thought … because that seems to be what helped me.

    2. I used a Strausburg (sp?) sock at night to get rid of mine. Stretching, tennis balls, frozen water bottles also helped.

      1. Thanks for your feedback on this Amy and the rest of you ladies too! I actually am using the 2nd set of custom orthotics I’ve gotten. The first pair I was fitted for and ordered through “Foot Solutions” and they were hard and inflexible and killed my feet, especially after a run. Then my sports chiro had a pair made through a special mfr he uses out of Denver that builds them especially for runners and they are a very firm but flex material with a foamy cover and they helped a lot. I run in the Lady Isaac and try to rotate sometimes to a pair of Brooks. When I’m walking around during the day I go between a pair of Skeletoes, FitFlops and the Brook’s. Did you ever get cortizone shots? I’m tempted to try it but heard from another girl that the shot hurt terribly and didn’t last long. I also read they can impeded healing. Surely this stuff can’t last forever?!?!?!

        1. okay, so WHICH type of Brooks shoes are you all running in?

          I’ve never had a problem with PF, but now am having this mild pain in my arches & don’t know what else it might be.

          1. I have the Brooks Adreneline but get more comfort running in the Lady Isaac (Newton Running shoe). With PF the pain is usually right under the heal when the heal attaches to the arch’s “facscia”. Be care though whatever it is! My son was having some arch pain and (at my sports chiro’s advise) I picked up over the counter orthotics for arch support at the New Balance store and they have worked wonders for him! Maybe if you catch it early it wont progress into plantar fasciitis!

            1. Yes, I know everyone refers to PF as “heel pain” buet everyone also says that this arch pain is likely PF too. I am running in Brooks Adrenaline but never had the pain before I switched to them. Danny Abshire has shown me the Newton way of running a few times but I’m still not sure about it. Back to the drawing board (running show store) again…

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