I have something tough to say this week, so I’m just going to say it: I’m getting divorced.
Now hold on. Keep reading. I’m not divorcing my husband, Wil. Why on earth would I divorce my best friend, strongest cheering squad, intellectual equal (almost :-) and world’s greatest dad? Would I really want the man who to his knowledge is the father of my children (just kidding, honey; we all have the same blood type for a reason) out of my life? No, I’m not divorcing Wil. I’m divorcing my damned shoes.
|The holes should have told me I wore them too long.|
I’ve had a problem for months that I haven’t written about because it’s completely ridiculous. But, here goes. In April I developed a corn between two toes on my right foot. Well, 5 months, 3 pairs of sneakers and 2 podiatrist appointments later, and I still have the stupid thing and it still feels like someone is squeezing my foot in a vice grip every time I run. Or walk. Or breathe if I have shoes on.
I’m pretty sure it developed because I was wearing running shoes that needed to be retired but I was trying to keep the relationship going longer than it should have. The next pair just exacerbated the problem, but I didn’t want to toss out a pair of running shoes that were too young to die. So I wore those for months, running in pain every single time. A couple of months ago I couldn’t stand the pain anymore, so I kept the same brand (Brooks) but changed styles (from Ravennas to Adrenalines). And – no difference. The problem now, though, was that I was knee deep in my training plan for the NY Marathon. It was time to start breaking in the shoes that were going to accompany me on my 26.2 mile journey through the 5 boroughs of New York City, and this relationship needed to work. So, I pretended that my little toe wasn’t dying every time I ran and I ignored the pain that lingered the rest of the day after a run.
Yesterday I had the first of two 20 mile long runs on my training plan. The weekly long runs are the meat and potatoes of a marathon training plan, and are pretty crucial. You need them to build up muscle in your body and stamina in your mind. The 20 miler is a really big deal, because finishing that is one way of telling yourself that: a) the marathon you’ve been training for months for is getting pretty damned close, and b) that if you can get through it on your own power then you’ve got this marathon in the bag.
So, yesterday my running partner Rita and I set off bright an early for our 20 mile run. We had a bit of a route planned out, but since the run is so long, we just kept turning down whichever road seemed reasonable and doubled back through neighborhoods in order to fit a 20 mile run into a town that is only 2.2 square miles in area. Things were fine for the first 4 miles, but then I felt the vice grip on my right foot, squishing that toe that is so unhappy right now. I didn’t want to start complaining THAT early on in my run, so I shifted my stride a little so that I landed on the inside of my foot instead of the outside.
Now, any runner with two cells of grey matter will tell you that changing your gait midway through your run is a terrible idea, especially if it’s because something hurts (the logical thing to do is stop, but runners are almost never logical). The reason is simple; if you’re now landing on parts of your foot that have not been trained to receive pressure three times your body weight over and over, those parts of your foot will also start to hurt. And by mile 7, that’s exactly what happened. I could feel what ended up being 3 blisters rubbing. They were spread out over both feet, meaning that there was no way to feel relief. I think it was somewhere around mile 8 that I turned to Rita and said, “I need to apologize”. Rita looked confused and asked what I was apologizing for. My reply: “For how incredibly bitchy and nasty I’m going to be for the next 12 miles”.
I knew this run was important so I kept going, but it hurt like hell. Usually Rita and I encourage each other along, but this time she was the only cheerleader joining us for our run today. We both work in data and math, so every few miles she’d yell out our completion rate in percentages: “25% done! 37.5% completed!” Yes, it was very nerdy but it helped.
We drink and eat our gels every 5 miles, and walk as we do so (for Rita I think it’s just to give herself a break; for me it’s so that my water doesn’t end up everywhere but my own mouth). Starting up again after the 5 mile break wasn’t too bad. The 10 mile one was very hard to go from walking back to running, and at the 15 mile walk break I tried to determine if I could still say that I completed my 20 mile run if I walked through the last 5 miles. I knew I couldn’t, so I started running again. Ouch.
At mile 17, I -- the math genius and card carrying Mensan -- thought to myself “yay, just 2 miles to go”. Yes, I thought that 17 plus 2 equals 20. Hey, you go out and run 17 miles on a painful corn and 3 blisters, and tell me how good you are at math at that point. We plodded along, and when it felt like a half mile had passed, I looked at my watch fully expecting it to say that I was at mile 18.5. But when I saw that it said 17.5, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I realized my math error and mentally just gave up. I couldn’t run anymore.
I actually stopped for a second. I walked for a bit, getting up the nerve to tell Rita that I couldn’t run any more. But then I thought about how hard I had been working. I was at mile 17.5 (NOT 18.5) of a 20 mile run. I had been running in pain for hours. Hell, I had been running in pain for months. Was I going to quit now? No, I decided. I wasn’t.
So, I started to run again (if we can use a VERY loose definition of the word “run”) and just kept going. I got to mile 18 and then the real mile 18.5. At mile 19 I started counting down every 10th of a mile. Rita had gotten ahead of me and was out of earshot, but I’d yell out anyway: “0.9!”, “0.8!”
At one point Rita looked over her shoulder and I held up one finger (no, not THAT finger. My index finger; geesh): 0.1 to go. Rita turned around and ran back to me. By then I said, “point-oh-eight”. We ran together and I counted down the hundredths. Finally, my watch beeped. 20! We stopped dead in our tracks and high-fived each other. We did it. I felt amazing and like pure crap, all at the same time.
I spent the rest of my Saturday wrapping blisters and trying to stay off my feet as much as possible. And while I laid around like a lox, I realized that if that had been the actual marathon, I would have been completely screwed. I would have finished, but I probably would have walked the last 6 miles and would have been incredibly pissed off at myself. I would have trained for months and worked so hard to have to complete a marathon in the very last way that I wanted to do it. So by this morning, I decided it was time to part company with this most recent pair of running shoes.
My mom has a saying: “Cheap is expensive”. Every pair of shoes I have ever bought have been on sale, liquidation, or I had enough coupons that the store practically had to pay me to buy them. And every pair since April has been slowly trying to kill my feet. So today I bought the most expensive pair of running shoes I have ever purchased (side note: I still managed to get 10% off. I will die before I ever pay retail for anything). The marathon is exactly 5 weeks from today. My relationship with my new shoes needs to be more like a torrid love affair than a great marriage. It needs to start strong and build up fire for these few weeks. Then we need one amazing, amazing all day love affair on November 2nd as we tour New York City by foot. So, here’s hoping that divorcing my old shoes was the right move to make, and that my new “champagne taste” sneakers do the trick.
|My new kicks: Brooks Glycerin|