Saturday, May 14, 2016

Best Foot Forward

It's been a long time since I've blogged.  I thought many times about writing but didn't want to address the changes that were happening.  I wasn't particularly interested in finding the silver linings in the process either.  I was disappointed and frustrated with the situation that unfolded after the half marathon in 2011, the subject of my last blog post, and how it worsened over time.  But now that I have more perspective and feel much better, I'm going to pick up right where I left off and talk about that race and what followed.

Back in 2011, I was loving running.  I ran to relieve stress.  I ran to stay fit.  I ran to clear my head.  I already had one half marathon under my belt and had set a personal best at the Broad Street Run in Philly.  I felt strong.  But running longer distances to train for the latest half marathon had become more challenging because of my changes in diet.  At that point in time, I was switching from a vegan diet to one that was non-dairy and no sugar.  This included a limit on most carbs and fruit.  My food plan mainly consisted of chicken, eggs, fish, brown rice and low-glycemic vegetables.  It was boring.  I hated fish.  I tried to make a mashed potato recipe using cauliflower.  Ew.  The only amusement I found on this plan was that it was prescribed to me by a vegan doctor at Thomas Jefferson.  I thought if anyone could convince me of ditching veganism it would be a vegan doctor.  Health before veganism?  I thought the two went together but I had the test results to prove otherwise in my case.   

Eating meat again took some getting used to but it was certainly easier than trying to run on a restricted diet.  I felt my muscles cramping during 6-8 mile runs.  Instead of looking for possibilities to improve performance, I assumed there were none and stopped running.  But race day rolled around and the runner in me still wanted to do it.  So I indulged in a big bowl of brown rice pasta the night before and laced up my running shoes.  I was a little nervous but figured I was young and still in good enough shape to pull it off.

Everything seemed to be going well until my foot cramped in the 10th mile.  Knowing the race was almost over, I ignored my foot pain and decided to finish.  I rationalized that the last stretch was on the other side of the river and there was no "cab-it-home" option.  And what would be the point of walking the rest of the way?  Run to get home quicker.  Get 'er done.  Finish what was started.

The pain came and went.  I walked a bit, then ran a bit.  The endorphins must have masked the damage I was causing.  It was only after the race that my foot felt like a cinder block.  I wobbled to brunch with friends and then wobbled home.  The next day, I had trouble getting out of bed...standing up...getting down the stairs...walking.   I remember saying, "Oh shit, what have I done?"  My body had a clear message for me.  I had gone too far.  I had taken it for granted.  I pushed my body beyond its limits and so much further than I could have known.  And now I had to make amends. 

It's taken me the length of time in absence from this blog (a really long time) to find solutions that have worked, to accept my body's "slow down" messages, to appreciate movement, and to revel in newfound strength and possibility.  The journey of experiencing optimum health doesn't have a clear-cut path.  And the journey is continuous without end.  It doesn't include a list of instructions (darn!).  At certain points it requires patience and persistence.  It relies on commitment.  It likes supporters and cheerleaders.  And it calls for trust that you'll eventually feel better...that you're doing the right things for your mind, body and spirit...that you are putting your best possible foot forward.  

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