March 27th, 2007


The Agony of Da Feet

I ran TEN MILES on Sunday.

To truly appreciate this feat, you have to get a condensed version of a post I meant to write weeks ago. Basically, when I was running, I was getting arch pain, followed by tingling, followed by my feet going completely numb.

Apparently, this was not normal.

Clearly, then, my shoes were too small. Even though when I had originally gotten my shoes from Sports Basement, the guy had actually sized me down because he said I had too much room in the toe box. So I went back to the Sports Basement in the city and exchanged them for a larger pair of shoes that, I think, was actually cheaper than my original pair.

My feet still hurt, and they still went numb.

I e-mailed my doctor, who recommended I try insoles. I went to Transports to get their advice, and they, like everyone else I had told, were baffled by the numbness. I got some magical heat-molding insoles, and the next day, I ran four miles in them. The arch pain did seem to disappear, but my feet still went numb. Also, I couldn't walk the rest of the day because my heels hurt so much as a result of running four miles without breaking in the insoles.

It should be noted that by this time, I think, I had begun to notice a strange sensation in my left heel. It wasn't painful, but it was just something that shouldn't be there.

When I described the situation to one of the running coaches, he recommended running socks, as they would give my feet more room.

I drove through rush hour traffic in the rain to get to Fleet Feet, where a cute girl named Kelsey sized my feet at a 7, despite the fact that I've been wearing size 9 shoes for years. She recognized my heel issue as plantar fasciitis and recommended a stretch to help. She also recommended SuperFeet insoles rather than the magical heat-mold ones, and she showed me a skeletal foot and convinced me that she knew what she was talking about. Her contribution to the continuing saga of my shoes was to try a wider shoe. Although she found me a good shoe, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to flat-out return the shoes I already had, so I just bought the insoles.

I then engaged in a moral and ethical dilemma due to the fact that I would feel sort of shitty taking Fleet Feet's advice and proceeding to buy the actual shoe from Sports Basement, where it would be cheaper. Thankfully, my decision was made for me, since Sports Basement didn't carry the shoe in the width I needed. I returned my shoes and made the trek to Fleet Feet again to buy the shoes in addition to running socks.

On my first run in those shoes, my feet did not go numb at all. I thought my problem was solved. I was so confident, in fact, that I tied my shoes a little tighter because the running shoes plus the wider shoes seemed to result in overcompensation, giving me too much room. And then my feet went comfortably numb once again.

Finally, finally, I went to see a podiatrist. Who listened to my story and tapped my feet a little.

And then proclaimed that I had chronic compartment syndrome. It was an uncommon condition, which is why no one I talked to had any idea what was going on. My muscles press against the fascia and reduce blood flow. They always have. All this time, I thought it was normal for my feet to hurt after standing or walking for a long time. And here I discovered that, no, in fact, I just had stupid feet.

There was no cure for my condition. All I could do, he said, was stretch better and more often. That would also help with the plantar fasciitis. The magical power of stretching, that would do it.

Surprisingly enough, it...did. I stretched before my maintenance run, and my feet did not go numb. I was cured!!

Or so I thought. Because about three miles into my seven-mile run (which, incidentally, I was running with a slower pace group since the coach had grounded me until I saw a podiatrist, and I missed the six-mile run), my feet started tingling again. So I took a magical stretching break, and my feet felt fine the rest of the way. I was cured!!

Or so I thought. Because about three miles into my nine-mile run (which, incidentally, I was still running with a slower pace group because my arm was in a sling and the last week's run had been on silly treadmill) my feet started tingling. I took a magical stretching break, didn't help. A few minutes later, I tried stretching again. It didn't help. At the 4.5-mile turnaround, I took yet another stretching break. And, suddenly, my feet felt fine the rest of the way. I was cured!!

Which brings us to the ten-mile run. I was trying out my original pace group, which had a 3:1 run/walk ratio. Again, around three miles in, my feet started tingling, so I took a stretch break. It didn't seem to do anything. Then we had about TWO MILES UPHILL. My feet basically went numb. I took one or two more stretch breaks, and my feet were still numb. It wasn't working. I didn't understand. It was supposed to work. And speaking of work, I heard my name being called, which confused me until I saw a guy waving at me from the top of his house. It took me a couple seconds to place him because he was out of context, but he was a co-worker of mine! How bizarre. I do stand out, running with a sling. Liu Kang and I met up with a slower pace group and joined them; I couldn't handle the pace we were going. This group had a 3:2 run/walk ratio, which was glorious. My feet were still tingling and numb. I stretched some more. It wasn't going away.

I stretched a little at the turnaround. I didn't think I could make it back. Nothing was working. I didn't know how I could do five more miles like this, even if we got to go downhill now. But as we turned around and started downhill, I realized that my feet had gotten better for no apparent reason, despite the fact that they were feeling tingly and numb all of ten seconds ago. And they remained fine for the five miles back. I was cured!!

This is the thing, see. There were so many points along this path that I should have, by all rights, given up. But you guys have been so generous, and I didn't want to let you down. The money was going to go to a good cause anyway, but you paid for my pain and suffering in addition to alleviating other people's pain and suffering. I soldiered through, and it's not going to get any easier as the runs get longer. I'm dropping down to the lower pace group, but I really don't know what to expect from my feet. How many stretch breaks will it take before they're okay? Will I be stopping every ten minutes, slowing everyone down? The marathon is going to be one hell of a grueling experience with my stupid feet.

But there is another theory that it's not so much the amount of stretching that's doing it but the fact that I keep going. That eventually, my feet get over themselves. That if I can just make it through the bad times, good times lie ahead. (Obvious Metaphor Alert!)

My current donation tally stands at $2,340. If you have not donated yet, I would like you to think about my poor feet and the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS, and the fact that there's really no comparison there at all. I'm seeing a lot of people making $25 and $50 donations, which is just amazing to me, but there are hundreds of you reading me right now, and I'll bet you could spare $1, $5, or even $10. Can you do the multiplication? We can make it to $3,000 in no time.