Sep 16

Some Progress

13067187205_daf5c5ef0c_zI had my check-up at the orthopedist this morning, and the good news is that there are visible signs of healing. The weirdness is that the healing is in a different place than we thought it would be, It’s back on the 3rd metatarsal rather than the first. We expected things to be happening over on the 1st based on the MRI, but signs of bone regeneration are signs of bone regeneration, and I’ll take it where i can find it.

From here, the road back to running is still a lengthy one–another four weeks before I can try. I was not surprised to hear this because while my foot feels much, much better than it did, it still feels like there is something wrong. I can get around more easily than before, but I still can’t get around easily. So my doctor and I are choosing to be conservative in order to give me the best chance possible for Paris. That means more time in the pool, which I am absolutely fine with. I start transitioning back to running shoes this week (though not for running), and next week, I can start to add short walks to the routine. Parker will be very happy to hear that!

My doctor thinks that I should be able to meet my next goal, which is to be able to run outside–if only for a little bit–on my birthday, which is just under four weeks from now. The transition back to running outdoors will have to be a slow one, so I think that I will take advantage of this opportunity to try and train Parker to run with me. I haven’t done so before because I lacked the patience for it, but I think that it could be a fun way to ease back in for both of us.

Thank you to everyone who crossed their fingers and sent good thoughts & wishes–I am grateful for the support. In the meantime, if you need me, you can probably find me in the pool.


[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Aurel].

Sep 06

Chlorine is my jam


8589583606_4b4ed6c03d_zFirst things first, that photo is not me. I like to think that I look like her when I am swimming, but the truth is, I have no idea. Because I’m swimming, so the only things I am sure of are these:

  1. There’s a big black line that runs the length of the pool.
  2. I am most comfortable when I breathe every four strokes to the right.
  3. Breathing is much louder when done underwater.
  4. Lots and lots of people who swim in the same pool as me forget to remove their band-aids before entering the water.


My foot is still broken. But it is healing. Slowly. Or maybe it is healing at a moderate rate, even quickly for a cracked bone–I don’t know–but it feels like it is happening in slow motion. I’m not the most patient of people when confronted by my own limitations. Or really limitations of any kind. I am grateful that many of my friends, family, and colleagues are more patient than I am. I’m not always the most cheerful person in the room right now. Especially if getting to that room requires stairs.

So I’ve been swimming (and aqua jogging, or pool running). For the quantitative types among us, I’ve spent a little over 24 hours in the pool in the last three weeks. That might strike some as excessive. It would probably strike me as excessive. Except for the fact that the time I spend in the pool is the only time that I can move through the world without pain. The pain of walking isn’t excruciating. But it is uncomfortable enough that I am avoiding it and avoiding things that require it. This includes walking my dog,  Parker, which  for the last 6 almost 7 years has been a daily source of joy for both of us. I miss it terribly. But swimming doesn’t hurt. When I swim, I can forget that my foot is broken (except for the flip turns, which I do only with my left foot). Aquajogging doesn’t hurt either. It’s about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it doesn’t hurt.

It occurred to me last week sometime that perhaps it is appropriate that my journey to Paris requires me to swim. Perhaps all transatlantic marathons should have such a prerequisite. Maybe not. Probably not. But it makes perfect sense to me that mine does. I think about Paris a lot when I’m in the pool.

I did break down and purchase a waterproof iPod this week. I’ve used it twice now, and it has really made a great difference, especially in the pool running. I’ve been listening to an an audiobook. Audiobooks, I have realized, are EXPENSIVE. And many of the ways to get them from libraries or the like require newer technology (the waterproof iPods are generally Shuffles, so the apps that many library interfaces require will not work). I’ve signed up for a trial membership with, which is pretty cool so far. The headphones aren’t very comfortable, but I’m pretty sure none of the waterproof options combined with a swim cap would be.

It also occurred to me that maybe there is a magical number of laps I need to swim or minutes I need to aqua jog for my foot to be healed. I don’t really believe that to be true, or at least the rational, non-magical thinking part of my brain doesn’t believe that to be true . . . but there’s nothing like an injury to trigger superstition. As I said to a friend, I am becoming the Queen of Magical Thinking of late.

I go back to the doctor on the 16th. Hopefully I will get good news.


[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Simply Swim UK]

Sep 05

Weekend Reading: September Already Edition

By Erin E. Templeton


Another Labor Day is behind us, and I saw the first few autumn leaves this week, incongruous amidst temperatures in the upper 80 degree range. we hope you’ve have a good week and look forward to an even better weekend.

This week, Yale launched a massive web-based platform called <a target=_blank …read more

Aug 29

Weekend Reading: Back in the Classroom Edition

By Erin E. Templeton


Today’s image is a tableau titled “Classroom with Three Figures” by Lavern Kelley, painted white pine, plywood, brass, and plastic, 1979, 1984–87. I originally had something else in mind for this space, but when I came across it in my Creative Commons searching, I couldn’t not use it.

TGIF …read more

Aug 22

Weekend Reading: August & Everything After Edition

By Erin E. Templeton


As summer, for many of us, speeds towards its inevitable end, I am reminded of the ebb and flow that marks this time of year: the daylight has begun waning sooner, and our daily habits and patterns will shift (or may have already shifted) to accommodate the demands of …read more

Aug 19

Stress Fractures ‘R Us

241874067_7eecb229c9_zI finally got the results of my MRI today (for those of you playing along at home, I had the test last Thursday afternoon but couldn’t get in to see the doctor until this morning. (That is an x-ray of someone else’s foot, by the way . . .)

I have a stress fracture in my first metatarsal. I was very surprised to hear this because after my last appointment, I really thought I had Morton’s neuroma based on where the pain seemed to be located and how much better it feels today than it did on D-Day (July 31). Most stress fractures are of the 2nd or 3rd metatarsals, but then, when did I ever follow the herd? Not in this lifetime . . .

What this means:

1) I’m in the pool for the next 4 weeks. I went yesterday to see how it would go, and swimming laps was fine. No pain at all. Pool running with the float belt was also fine except for the time that I took a step off the bottom with the injured foot. That wasn’t fine. YOWZA. But otherwise, I was surprised at how hard pool running is. It doesn’t have to be, I guess. I mean, you can just float around (some of the seniors at the pool I go to seem to take this approach), but if you are actually running, it’s much more effort that running on the ground.

2) Had I been dealing with a Morton’s neuroma, I would be back running sooner probably, but I would also be dealing with the neuroma pretty much forever afterwards. They are not something that go away completely, though I do have several friends who have figured out successful ways to manage them. The stress fracture is a one and done kind of deal assuming that I follow my doctor’s orders and don’t refracture it before it has the chance to heal all the way. Hence the pool. I will learn to love pool running and swimming for the next 4-6 weeks. Two days down. Twenty-eight or so to go (though to be clear, I do not plan to swim every single day of the next four weeks).

3) You may see me rocking’ a super-swank “post-op shoe.” The doctor said I could also wear running shoes or my Birkenstocks but that I’m supposed to not flex my foot, and this shoe is supposed to help with that. The downside is that it doesn’t fit very well. They didn’t have the women’s medium in stock, so I have a men’s small, which is a bit too wide. So you may see me rocking some chunky socks too, except that it’s August, and I’m not sure I can bring myself to wear chunky socks in August in SC. They did not want to put me in the boot. I asked about it, and they said that for my situation, the boot wouldn’t be any better than this shoe, and that the shoe might not even be necessary. So I have the shoe and we’ll see how that goes.

4) My plan to run the full-marathon in Kiawah this December has changed. I am hoping that maybe I can do the half instead, but if I can’t I’ll live. The Very Good News is that both the doc and his PA said (independently) that April (and the PARIS marathon!) is plenty far away to completely recover and train as long as I let the foot heal all the way and don’t reinjure it.

So all in all, I’m choosing to see this as good news. I have my diagnosis. I know what I need to do for the next month, and I’m determined not to rush it but rather to be deliberate and methodical. The road to Paris started yesterday. It just has a slight detour through the pool.

Thanks everyone for your support and good wishes. It definitely helps.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Eric Schmuttenmaer]

Aug 15

Weekend Reading: Back to School Countdown Edition

By Erin E. Templeton


TGIF, ProfHackers! As the beginning of the semester looms, many of us are trying to enjoy the last moments of freedom while others are finalizing syllabi and trying to meeting writing deadlines before classes begin. Amidst all of this preparation, the world has had a very busy week, and if …read more

Aug 09

On Toughness

8727908613_2164077da9_zWhen you do a Creative Commons image search for “toughness,” you get a lot of wordiness and this hummingbird. I like hummingbirds, and this one is apparently hanging out on a very slight branch in heavy wind (at least according to the photographer).

I feel a bit like this bird right now. One of my friends told me to “hang tough” a few days ago, and I’m trying my best to do it. In my attempts, I’ve realized one thing: there are different kinds of toughness, and some of them come more easily than others.

The kind of toughness I need right now is one of the ones that doesn’t come easily, at least it doesn’t come easily for me. It is the kind of toughness needed to deal with injury, uncertainty, vulnerability. It is a toughness born of patience rather than action. Patience not only to wait for the diagnosis and healing to happen, but also patience to deal with everything else that comes along with not being able to lace up my shoes and burn off my frustrations, no the least of which is all that I do not know about what is wrong with my foot. I have a theory, but I’m a Ph.D. of literary studies, and my foot has little in common with the kind of feet we find in poetry.

Here is what I do know: it’s been a little over a week, and I’ve been off my foot for almost that entire time. You do not want to know how many hours of TV I have watched in the last seven days. Some people self-medicate with alcohol or or cigarettes or ice-cream. I self-medicate with TV. It’s probably not the healthiest of coping mechanisms, but I’m not hung over, my lungs still work, and my clothes still fit despite the fact that I can pretty much feel my metabolism grinding to a halt. In any case, while I’m still walking with a pretty significant hobble, the “rest-cure” seems to be working at least a little. My foot doesn’t hurt as much, and I can get around a little better.

Here’s what else I know: I have a doctor whom I trust. Who has not only examined my x-rays but has also taken a full history and treated me for a few years now. He has laid eyes on my actual foot, palpitated the affected areas, and compared the injured foot to the uninjured foot–in person. He has said I need an MRI. I haven’t yet had the MRI. I won’t have it until next week, and I don’t see him again for a few days after that. So until he tells me what I’m dealing with, I wait. While I wait, I try not to panic or go too far down the rabbit holes of various diagnoses. My baseline is much closer to panic than usual. The wind is blowing, figuratively speaking, and I’m holding on to my branch.

Initially, I had planned to keep silent about the whole thing. I generally play things like this close to the vest. To say that I don’t like talking about injuries or vulnerabilities might be the understatement of the week month year decade(?). But over the course of the last week, I’ve read a number of posts from other runners dealing with their injuries, and they have helped me. A great deal. It has given me hope to read about other people’s determination, their strength, and their struggles. To watch them make their comebacks against broken bones, torn ligaments, and other injuries. Some of these stories are from professional athletes and #runheroes like Kara Goucher and Caitlyn Comfort. Others are my friends who have conquered sprained ankles, broken bones, diabetes, MS.

I’m trying to stay positive and be patient, sometimes more successfully than others. I’m doing what I can to work on my core, my hips, my glutes (not easy when you can’t flex one of your feet!), and when I get back from the beach (where I’m visiting my parents), I’ll start more intensive cross-training (hello pool-running) and hopefully get my diagnosis.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Don McCullough].

Aug 05

A Trial: Update

3058506_408a2e7600_z So I had hoped to get a definitive diagnosis today at the doctor. No such luck. The x-ray came back negative, which wasn’t a huge surprise since stress fractures and tendinitis don’t usually show up on x-rays. Or at least the stress fractures that do show up are either really, really bad ones or ones pretty far down recovery road. I was pretty sure I had neither.

So next up: an MRI next Thursday. They could have fit me in a few days earlier, but I’m visiting my parents at the beach. Thursday means I  will come back a day early instead of missing the whole week.

The doctor said that it could be a metatarsal stress fracture, but that one point in our favor (of it not being a stress fx) is that my pain is in my 4th toe/metatarsal, while most stress fx are the 2nd or 3rd. The other viable candidate is Morton’s Neuroma. I had ruled it out pretty much right off the bat because I had read that it felt like you were standing on a pebble, and my foot didn’t feel like that. But it does, when I do try to put weight on it it feels like I’m standing on a towel or a cotton ball. Mostly, there’s pain when I flex the ball of my foot with any kind of weight.

So tomorrow I will try to drive and see how that goes (it’s my right foot). I think it will be ok, but ???

On the upside, the post has a picture of cat feet for two reasons:

  1. Cat feet are awesome. More specifically, cat toes are awesome.
  2.  I initially did a creative commons image search for “foot injury.” I don’t recommend it. I saw some very gruesome images. But on the upside, I still have all my toes. I am not dealing with antibiotic resistant, flesh-eating bacteria. Chances of amputation are very low.

So it’s more waiting. And whatever core work I can do that doesn’t aggravate my feet. Oh, and finishing the syllabi and writing project I have overdue.


[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user liz west]

Aug 05

Another trial

Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches I haven’t run a step since Thursday morning. That’s five days. FIVE. In fact, I haven’t walked many steps either. I haven’t driven at all, and I’ve only left my house once, last night, thanks to a friend who came and picked me up. I don’t know what the problem is yet, but a weekend planted on the couch with my laptop has given me lots of time to do research, so I have a few theories: metatarsal stress fracture or extensor tendinitis are my two leading candidates. I’m hoping for that latter even though it likely means a needle. But I’m the wrong kind of doctor to diagnose foot injuries, so I shouldn’t speculate further.

In any event, I’m potentially looking at some significant time away from running. This after starting to work with a coach, buying a new Garmin, signing up for a 5K later this week, and starting a training cycle for a December marathon.

The less rational side of my brain says that doing all of these things in such close proximity triggered the jinx gods. Magical thinking? Maybe.

But I’ve also been thinking a lot about the timing of it all. I was not smart about my recovery after Big Sur. I started running too much too soon. That landed me a quad strain and now this. Looking back over the last couple weeks, my foot had been bothering me from time to time. It didn’t bother me when I was running, but it flared when I would do lunges or sometimes when I was walking. I thought it was my bunion, but it wasn’t. I know that now.

If I have to deal with an(other) injury, I suppose it is good that it is happening now. It would be much more difficult to deal with if I were a few weeks out from a race I had been training for for months. I have accepted the fact that a marathon is probably not in the cards for December. If I’m lucky and smart going forward, maybe I can still do the half. The race I really care about, Paris, is in April. That’s far enough away that it should still be okay. I may not be going for speed, probably not, but I hope that I will still be able to get up to the distance if I train wisely. Here’s where I’m glad I hired a coach.

But the other thing that I have realized is that in the grand scheme of things, even if this is a worst case scenario and Paris is also off the table, it’s nothing compared to what many of my friends have dealt with in the last year or two. While I hate not being able to run more than I hate most anything else, it is temporary. There will be other races. More importantly, I have friends who are helping me and a really good partner in my couch potatoey-ness, my dog Parker.

Hopefully in a few hours I’ll know what I’m dealing with and can formulate a plan to go forward.

[Creative commons licensed image by Flickr user Ken Teegardin]

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