Monday, July 26th…..This week begins with a tough 5 ½ mile “tempo run” on the soft dirt of the Central Park bridal path. TFK meets at 6:15pm, and begin with a ½ mile warm up jog. Now that may sound strange, because we go for a run…before we go for our run. But from what I have learned from our coaches, in order to optimize our performance during practice, it’s best to raise the runner’s heart rate before taking off on this cozy little jaunt.
After a bit of stretching and that ½ mile warm up, I ran with a group of TFKers that hoped to pace themselves between 9:30 – 11 minutes per mile. I figured that a 10:30 pace would suit me perfectly, as it would not be overly stressful on my left heel. I am developing a fairly nasty case of plantar fasciitis, which is a bruising of the ligaments that run directly under the heel pad of your foot. This injury is rather tricky, as the pain goes away as you run, and then shows up BIG TIME when you try to get out of bed the very next morning. The way I treat this injury is by slightly slowing my pace on any run that doesn’t involve TFK, and icing my left heel under my desk during the day and nightly as I watch TV. These simple treatments have helped just enough to keep me up and training without any longer-term layoffs.
This 9:30 – 11 min per mile pace group started off rather quickly, clipping off the first 2 miles at a 10:10 pace. I stayed in the center of the pack, feeling quite comfortable and actually “running with my head” – which means that I was able to actually think about my technique, my form, and my heart rate. My arms were pumping forward and back, making sure that I didn’t cross them in front of my chest. My posture was straight, but not rigid. My strides were crisp and I was able to keep my heart rate under control my breathing deeply into my nose and out of my mouth. Yes sir – the first 2 miles felt fantastic. But what’s that saying about all good things?
As we began reeling in our third mile of the evening, the group’s pace quickened. Now we were running at a 9:30 pace. I focused on my heart rate and tried my best to stay within the center of the group. My goal this year is to get faster – and the only real way to do that is to push yourself by running with people that are faster than you. This was exactly what I was doing this evening by running with this pace group, as the fourth mile began with a pace of 9:10. Now I began to struggle. The wheels were falling off.
I began to drift back from the pack, as their pace quickened even more during the last mile, clocking in at approximately 8:40. I staggered in to the finish near the TFK meeting spot about 3 minutes after the rest of the group. I felt a mixture of frustration (because I couldn’t keep with the group for the entire workout) and joy (because I did stay with the group for as long as I did). We finished practice with light stretching and some core work that left my stomach achy.
As I walked home from practice, my left heel had a brief conversation with my brain. It went a little something like this:
Heel: “Just a little FYI – I’m about to send you an instant message. Be on the lookout for it, OK?”
Brain: “Hey! Good hearing from you! What’s the topic?”
Heel: “Well I’ll let you read all the details yourself – but here’s the Cliff Notes version. You pushed me too hard today. I’m rather upset about it. Cranky would even be a better way to put it. As a union employee of this body, I’m choosing to go on strike.”
Brain: “Now wait a second – that’s not fair. At least let me hear your demands before you “walk out”. Get it? “Walk out”? How funny am I….?”
Heel: “Here are my demands. Call a cab. RIGHT NOW. I don’t want to take another step.”
Brain: “That’s it? That’s your only demand?”
Heel: “Yup. Quick and simple. So what’s it going to be?”
Brain: “Well…..I’d rather walk home. It’s better save the money….”
Heel: “OK – that’s it. I’m on strike as of……right……NOW.”
…….and at that moment, it felt as though I stepped on a knife.
Have you ever experienced your leg “falling asleep”? Well that’s how my left heel felt. I couldn’t place any body weight on it. I went from limping to literally hopping across 81st Street heading west. I sat down on the stoop of a very fine-looking hotel across the street from the American Museum of Natural History, just to make sure I didn’t topple over. Within moments, the doorman came out to ask me to get up and keep moving. Since my cranky button was pushed, the doorman and I had a lovely little exchange. Would you care to read about it? No? Well I’m going to share it with you anyway:
Doorman: (very politely) “Excuse me sir – are you a guest here?”
Me: (Not as polite and professional) “ummmm…..NO. Why?”
Doorman: (thin grin cracking across his face) “If that’s the case, I need to ask you to remove yourself from these steps.”
Me: (not grin AT ALL on my face) “Well I would if I could walk. I just injured my foot.”
Doorman: (the thin grin replaced with a blank expression) “Well you cannot rest here. Plus – you’re sweating all over the concrete.”
Me: (the bells went off in my head – time to layeth the verbal smacketh down) “First off – does it LOOK like I’m resting? I’m really hurting and it was either sit for a moment right here, or risk falling in front of your pretty little hotel. Now you see those two cracks in the pavement? Well my story would be that I tripped on one of them. And of course, I’d be worried about other people’s safety – so I’d obviously do the necessary thing and call my doctor…and then my lawyer. Secondly: buy yourself a nose hair trimmer, because when you sneeze I bet you look like a party favor.”
Doorman: “Wow. Now that was just wrong. Why did you have to bring my nose hair into this conversation?”
Me: “Well why did you have to make me crankier than I already was?”
Doorman: “We have a stalemate. I’m Chuck.”
Me: “Hi Chuck – I’m Miserable.”
Doorman: “Nice to meet you – want some water?”
……..ah, New Yorkers. We all have an inner wiseass pre-programmed into are biological hard drives. Yet we also have the innate ability to appreciate creative sarcasm.
“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.” – Doug Larson