After delaying what should have happened four months ago, I have finally scheduled an appointment with a foot and ankle surgeon. My appointment is tomorrow (Tuesday). I can only hope Dr. Ng will help me get this terrible case of plantar fasciitis over and done with. The PF hit me in July and hasn't let up since then. Some days and weeks have been better than others, but through it all the plantar fasciitis has still been there. With November now here and my 2011 race plans taking shape, I have got to get my foot in good shape.
Plantar fasciitis is a very misunderstood condition. People think it's inflammation of a big ligament under the foot, and in a sense it is. But when you get down to it, PF is a partially torn ligament--the fascia--in the foot. I have huge reservations about whether stretches and strengthening exercises are appropriate given the fact that a ligament is torn. It seems to me rest is the key.
And so last week I did something I have resisted for the past few months--I took it easy and ran just 45 miles. I did mix in some nice quality, such as a speedy tempo run on Friday morning, but my thinking has been to keep my mileage below where the pain in my foot starts. It could be that quality will also have to go by the wayside.
Having said all of that, on Sunday morning I met up with Henry and Steve at Green Mountain in Boulder to run some trails and enjoy the beautiful fall scenery. Driving to Boulder, I was really pumped as I've been wanting to get to the mountains lately and there's just something about Boulder that I love. The view of Longs Peak from the highway coming into Boulder was thrilling. It was a tad overcast--rare for Colorado--but I hoped the sun would burn away the clouds. I got really excited when I could see Green Mountain. There is something magical about Green Mountain, Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak.
From Chautauqua, we headed up the Saddle Rock Trail, hooking up with the Greenman Trail, which eventually brought us to the summit at 8,144 feet. Our second mile gained more than 1,000 feet. I was not having a good day, lagging behind and really struggling up the mountain. I'm not sure what my problem was--probably just a bad day--but my respiratory capacity just wasn't there. We hung out at the rocky summit for about 10 minutes, taking in the spectacular views of the Indian Peaks and the beautiful city of Boulder. It was still a little overcast but we nonetheless had great views. Only in Colorado....
Steve lived in Boulder for a long time and knows the trails well, so he led us down the mountain. I wanted to summit South Boulder and Bear peaks (especially Bear--it's the highest of the three), too, but I knew that would be a tad stupid with my foot problems. We ran pretty hard down Green, taking the Ranger and Gregory Canyon trails back down into town. There were some very technical sections, reminding me once again that I really need to work on my trail running skills. It's a game of confidence.
On the way down we passed (going in opposite directions) a group of runners that--how to say it?--consisted of epic talent. It's not every day that you see so much talent right there in front of you--Anton Krupicka (Mr. Green Mountain himself), Geoff Roes, Dave Mackey, Darcy Africa, and Krissy Moehl.
Sometime next month I'm going to write a year-in-review post. What 2010 has meant is still percolating in my mind, but I tend to think this hasn't been a good year of running. In 2008, I set new PRs in basically every distance. In 2009, I won a 100-mile race after focusing on it like a laser beam for about 18 months, put up a decent time in my first 50K road race and surpassed 130 miles in my first 24-hour race. This year, there have been some fairly good moments, like placing fifth at the Greenland Trail 50K (my first race at altitude) and earning the big buckle at the Leadville Trail 100 (though my 24:47 time left a lot to be desired), but overall 2010 has basically sucked.
I honestly think I was in my best condition in early May, thanks to months of focused intervals and tempo runs (which helped produce the good showing at the Greenland Trail 50K), and it all went downhill from there. Once in Colorado, the altitude took a major toll on me. I think living at 6,000 feet and having relatively easy access to mountains as high as 14,000+ feet will eventually make me a better runner. For now, it's just really hard. On Sunday's run at Green Mountain, I felt like I was breathing through a straw. A few weeks prior I felt great summiting 14,115-foot Pikes Peak. At altitude, you have good days and bad days. The bad days are really bad.
I also think my stress level for the first six months of the year was very high. Moving across the country and selling a house in a horrible market can be mentally draining. No excuses, though. This crappy year is all on me, and I do believe 2011 will be a much better year.
In 2010, I never got in a road marathon because our move conflicted with Boston, a race I had entered and so wanted to do. I'm beginning to see that the success of a year is measured quite a bit by the times I log in the marathon. At the end of the day, the marathon is, in my opinion, the greatest measure of a long-distance runner. I do believe that my 2:58 marathon PR is more than ripe for a challenge. And so with my eyes now on 2011, it is so important to me to get out of the gate with a quality road marathon at sea level. I was previously considering the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, but it's in mid-May. I think I'm now leaning toward the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 20 in Atlanta. I can spend time with my family, while also going for a new marathon PR. Frankly, the thought of intervals and tempo running all winter appeals to me. But only if my foot is healed by then.
A final note: I registered for the 2011 Leadville Trail 100. At this point, all I can say is that my goal is to finish in under 22 hours. But before I focus on Leadville, there's a marathon to run.
Here's a song that really inspires me through the miles.