It started with shoes.
(doesn’t it so often start with shoes?)
But this time, it started with a benign pair of shoes. I’d decided to start rotating in to my arsenal a pair of Brooks Ravennas, that are exactly like so many other pairs of Ravennas I’ve had. Problem was, it was the week after the Boston marathon, and my mind was so muddied with anger and confusion, and there was so much Anger Running going on, that I failed to do what I know I need to do with a new pair: re-lace my shoes so that they don’t press on the top of my high instep.
I ended up with extensor tendinitis, which affected my training for the Brunch Run and for my part of the Wisconsin Marathon. And when, by late May, the pain still hadn’t gone away entirely, I made a visit to two different shoe stores to try and see what I could do about getting into a different shoe (maybe) that would hit at different spots on the top of my foot and not aggravate the tendinitis.
At Big Peach, here at home, I was told to wait and see. Take the pair of discontinued ASICS that were alleviating the problem and use them till I needed to replace them. Then see where I was with the tendinities. Fair enough.
But when I traveled to Illinois to see my parents, I got a very different opinion. I went in about shoes again after being shin-splint-y after the Soldier Field 10-miler. Between that and the tendinitis, it felt like everything was going wrong. I was falling apart. The employee at the store was enthusiastic about using this as an opportunity to see what was right or wrong about the shoes I’d been in. He started from scratch–which was refreshing because no one has done that since the first time I bought real running shoes in early 2010. We spent a long time talking. He asked about my scoliosis, my injury history and why I have custom orthotics. I told him I have the customs because a PT once told me I had a fallen arch.
He watched me walk barefoot.
“You don’t have a fallen arch,” he said.
“What?” said I.
He watched me run on, videotaped, on a treadmill.
“You also don’t need as much support in your shoes as you have.”
“Wait, what? What?”
My mind was blown. Me, the world’s gimpiest runner, didn’t need so many of the supports and crutches I’ve been using in order to run? Could it be? How could this be?
He put me in several pairs of shoes, some that had way too little support, some that just didn’t feel good, and one pair, one pair, that felt…. amazing.
Like I was running on a trampoline.
Like a thousand tiny cheerleaders were on my feet, lifting me up and springing me forward.
Like I could go forever and never notice that I even had on shoes.
He cautioned me that the break-in process could take a couple of weeks, and sent me on my way, with my trampoline-shoes clutched under my arm.
I was over the moon. Y’all, I will be very honest with you: I thought I had accepted my station in life, but I do hate being The Gimpy Runner. I hate that I blog more about injuries and pain than I do PR’s, that I’ll never have a story for you of training my heart out and then breaking tape. I understand that that’s not my lot in my running life, but I do so want to feel light and airy when I run, to not have to worry about having inserts and support, to not have to spend more time making sure my body is adjusted and massaged and foam rolled than I do actually running. I’m not an elite athlete–I’m not even an average athlete, and yet it sometimes feels like staying running-ready is a full-time job.
And here was my chance for a taste of freedom from all of that! This new revelation… that I could get rid of a few of the things that make me feel so constrained in what I can do… well, it appealed to my pride. And we all now what pride goeth before. Right?
I had almost two weeks until Ragnar Chicago. I ran an amazing mile in the Trampoline Shoes the next day. “You are light and airy,” they whispered. Then I waited a day, and then I went two delicious miles in them. “You are a mermaid,” they cheered. We spent more time together. Some running, some walking around Chicago. I bought them wings to wear, since we were flying together. Oh, I was still alternating with my other shoes, as prescribed. But we didn’t have what Trampoline Shoes and I had together. A couple of days before Ragnar I ran 2.5 miles in them to the gym near my parents’, then 2.5 miles back. “We love you,” they declared. “We will always love you.”
“I love you, too, you enchanting, delightful Trampoline Shoes!” I declared back. “Let’s run away together!”
They made me feel good. They made me feel happy. I was in love.
And then, things turned bad.
(to be continued… painfully, heartbreakingly continued…)