BQ or Bust Part 3
Just a few short weeks before the San Francisco Marathon, I went out for one of my last long runs of the training period. It was a hot July morning and running 20 miles seemed excruciating. Physically, I crashed and burned with every step. Every mile seemed like its own marathon. But I persisted with the shuffling of my feet. Mentally, I kept telling myself that this was my last chance to provide the proof that I was ready for race day. That I could really BQ at the marathon.
The next morning, my world came tumbling down as I literally fell to the floor in pain getting out of bed. The stabbing sensation on the lateral part of my left foot was undeniably a red flag. A flood of panic and anxiety washed over me as I immediately starting thinking about the worst thing imaginable; will I be able to run my marathon? Then guilt rang in my head as I started blaming myself for yesterday’s stupidity. Why didn’t I listen to my body? Why did I have to be so careless?
I wobbled around my apartment in denial. “I’m fine… I’m fine. I’ll be okay in a couple days. Just relax. This is all part of the taper.” WRONG! A whole week passed and I still couldn’t put pressure on my foot. My eyes swelled up with tears. More guilt pursued, “How could I have been so careless? I shouldn’t have run in shoes with 400 miles on them. You know better than that Elysha!”
More panic set in and I needed a solution fast! Since I didn’t have health insurance, I knew seeing a Podiatrist was completely out of the question. I researched some more and found that one of my local running shops in San Francisco was owned by an Orthopedic Engineer named Mark. If there was anyone who knows feet, it’s Mark! So I scheduled an appointment to meet him the Friday before the race.
When I showed up, I told him what had happened and he asked me to sit down. He measured my feet and felt along the area where I had described the pain. He was upfront and honest about my assessment, highly advising me not to run the marathon on Sunday. He asked me if I had ever run with orthotics? I told him yes and showed him the ones I had been using. In a sympathetic manner, he advised me that the inserts I was using did not support my flat feet properly. He also linked the reason I was having pain was due to no support where my foot collapsed.
Mark grabbed one of his specially designed orthotics from the wall and placed it along my foot. He felt along the perimeter of my foot to see if it was the right support. Shook his head and went back to the wall to grab another. Again, he placed it along my foot and did just the same. This time he explained why this insert was right for the structure of my foot. He told me it would lift up my trouble spots and the pain should decrease. To test this theory out, he grabbed some Saucony Omni 16’s off the wall and replaced the manufacture inserts with his designed orthotics. He put them on my feet and asked me to walk around the store. Initially I thought this man is crazy. How was he expecting me to walk? I could barely put pressure on my foot…But I listened to his orders and started walking around the store. The pain had subsided immediately. I grinned and almost started to cry I was so happy! He told me to stop crying because we weren’t done yet. He said you need to go outside and run. It was at that moment, I looked at him like he REALLY was crazy…
Mark followed me outside and asked me to jog up a few feet keeping my stride short. I listened and followed his orders. With one foot in front of the other I was jogging. “OMG I’m running! I’m actually running with no pain!” Then has asked me to go run around the block a few times. Like before, I followed his orders and ran around the block. I felt invincible! The shooting pain had ceased and I was actually running.
Mark advised me that I should listen to how my feet feel for the next few weeks and ease back into the mileage. Wrapping up our time together, he gave me some foot strengthening activities and said that On The Run Shoes exists to make people’s feet happy. If I wasn’t happy within 14 days to come back to the store and they’ll figure out another solution for me.
That night slept soundly knowing one day I would run again... Though I was heartbroken over not being able to toe the line at the San Francisco Marathon, I still made an effort to participate in the race weekend festivities. Watching all the finishers including my friend Alys, gave me hope that I’ll be back in 2018. This time I'll do everything to make it happen!