Running is my drug of choice. It changes the way I view my world, myself, and my health. Since my DNF at Voyageur 50 caused in part by a foot/overuse injury, I have not ran. The injury started out as a minor sprain earlier this spring that happened while I was doing hill repeats/sprints when I somehow tripped in the process, bending the toes back a little too far and leaving the toe next to the big toe on my right foot very angry.
I’m sure it would have healed up and been just fine in a matter of days had it not have been for the roofing job on a steep pitched roof I started the next day. Running up and down that steep roof for 5 long days really aggravated it. Another roofing job the following week further beat it up, followed by 26.2 miles at Grandmas Marathon, and then a job where I spent a couple weeks finishing a small apartment/living accommodation, in the back of an airplane hangar. This job required me to park my tool trailer and set up my saws a long way from where I was working creating a lot of running back and forth with tools and materials. According to Garmin, I was averaging about 12,000 steps a day on that concrete and as far as the toe was concerned, the job was the equivalent of taking a large sledge hammer and whacking it a few more times. Then there was Voyageur 50. This was a 50-mile race through some steep terrain that I had signed up for months before I had a sore toe. I knew full well going into it that toeing the line of voyageur 50 despite the sore toe wasn’t the smartest thing I had ever done, but I did it anyhow. By somewhere around mile 15 the toe was twice the size of my other toes and my opposite leg was starting to have issues because I was running so out of whack at this point trying to spare the toe. In other words, it didn’t work out well… The hills at voyageur were steep and it was impossible to spare the toe no matter how I tried to run. Somewhere at the bottom of a hill I tripped on a root or rock and did a Fred Flintstone, turning those feet as fast as I could make them go, running up on the tip tops of my toes to avoid a faceplant in the rocks. the end result was a very angry toe, and that anger seemed contagious as now the ball of my foot right below the toe was just as angry. No doubt, Voyageur left the biggest mark of all.
That was over a couple months ago. I have not run in what seems like forever since then and for the past few weeks, I have really been missing it, to the point it’s been making me CRAZY. It has affected my mood, my sleep, and my mental health. I can feel the anxiety normally released in the process of running, building up to the boiling stage. I want to run. Riding bike doesn’t bother the toe in any way shape or form, but I’m not addicted to biking. For whatever reason, I WANT TO RUN… Saturday was the Ely marathon. Earlier this year I had hopes on entering the portage division. This is where you run the marathon while carrying a 30 some pound canoe. A 26.2-mile portage they are calling it. Waking up Saturday morning and seeing my wife getting ready to head to Ely for her race made me really question my decision to not enter before registration closed. Race day registration wasn’t an option so at that point, I couldn’t have ran if I wanted to. My wife was running the half, and several friends were running the full. Since I couldn’t join them, I did the next best thing and loaded up my bicycle and headed to Ely so I could ride the course and cheer them on. The Ely marathon follows an awesome course that wanders/rolls along the edge of the wilderness/BWCA along the southern end of the Echo Trail, a road well known for its scenic beauty of pine studded granite. This time of the year the fall colors are just getting started, further adding to the scenery. I had a an awesome time riding along along the course while cheering people on and saying hello to friends. If any of those friends are reading this and wondering why I didn’t make good on my promise to see you again along the course, it was due to a flat tire that left me walking… Not only was I now walking, but doing so in stupid hard plastic shoes that make a clicking sound on the pavement while pushing a bike with a flat tire, as runners continued passing me by…
I went to bed that night thinking about running. I slept hard and dreamed about running, and then woke up thinking about it. I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to go for a run. So Sunday morning, off I went, sore toe and all. The weather was misting, 40 degrees, with a ripping east wind but I knew if I put that nasty wind to my back it wouldn’t be as bad. So I started out slow, running to the west to keep that cold/wet wind at my back. I was very careful those first couple miles, moving along at more of a trot then a run. I wanted to make sure that toe warmed up slowly because I could feel it a little. By the time I had went 3-4 miles I was finding my groove and feeling good. By dumb luck I noticed a faster cadence made all the difference between feeling the toe or not so from that point on I concentrated on form, keeping my cadence in the upper 170’s while making sure my feet were landing behind me. Somewhere around mile 5 I had an epiphany where it all came together, making it feel as if I was was turning/riding on a wheel. I was running that smooth and it felt sooo good. Happy chemicals started flooding my brain. My toe did not hurt. My body took on the feeling of a finely tuned well-oiled machine. My consciousness elevated into something that can’t be explained, but only experienced. Clarity, simplicity, easiness, peace, harmony, contentment, pleasure, zero pain, at that point, like most addicts, I wanted more. It felt so good that I couldn’t leave well enough alone.
In my mind faster equated to more, and I wanted more, so I picked up the pace, nice and easy at first, then slowly easing into a pace fast enough to crash and burn. My toe started screaming out, this time It sounded off really loud, making sure I got the point. I listened to it out of fear of pain to come, slowing down to a crawl where I was somewhat rewarded with a couple more miles of my fix pain free. But like all mind-altering substances, eventually you run out and the high wears off. This is the stage where you go from high to hitting the dirt with your face.
Hopefully I didn’t destroy the toe to much on yesterdays run, but it did leave me limping again. I’m having a really hard time fighting this addiction. Hopefully I don’t relapse again before the toe gets its act together. Really wishing for Wild Duluth 50K. No doubt I’m going to need a fix by then. Stay tuned…
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