Ohhhhh, this damn ankle! I’m so tired of writing about it. But not hardly as tired as I am about feeling that familiar bone-against-bone grinding in my ankle that tells me that I’m done running — for the day or possibly the week.
I used to feel it after running a few days in a row. Now I am feeling it after running anywhere from two to three miles or so on a given day. What the sensation is telling me is that severe pain is straight ahead, that the ligament and muscle tissue in my left ankle is thin to non-existent. This is the aftermath of a car accident that fractured my ankle more than 30 years ago, aggravated apparently by 20 marathons and about 135 races overall in the last decade. And this isn’t something that will heal with time; a Seattle-area doctor and physcial therapist are telling me that trying to run like I have in the past 10 years will risk my ability to walk in future years (even though I love to run).
Enough of the explanation. Over the past month, since I last posted about my successful Resolution Run 5K in which I was able to run the whole race, the ankle has gotten worse. I’ve been trying to run twice a week and walking all the other days. My experience in Saturday’s Valentine’s Day Dash 5K at Green Lake made me realize that further attempts at running races may be futile.
I had a great time carefully running my way to the two-mile mark in the V-Day race. Around then came that grinding sensation … I expected it, but hoped it would be near the finish line. Instead, it forced me to walk the last mile. I tried to pick it up again for the “Tunnel of Love” last tenth of a mile, but couldn’t. Frustration. Disappointment. Finish time: 38:40. (Don’t laugh; my personal worst for this race is 39:27 in 2008, when I got tripped, tore a hamstring, and had to limp-walk the last mile.) Full results are here.
Before you all worry too much, please know that I am very cautious. I don’t risk running on my grinding ankle. That would mean pain, pain, pain. While the grinding didn’t automatically stop when I quit running Saturday, it did let up a bit, and then it discontinued when I crossed the finish line and relaxed my walking pace. I felt not much more than the normal pain I feel daily (due to arthritis in the ankle).
So … what does this transition mean? It means I am going to do only races now where there are walking events. And I will find “walking” topics to blog about. I may even change my “Running Commentary” to “Walking Commentary” (unless I determine that sounds too stupid).
At any rate, this blog will stay active, and may even get more interesting.
Please know that I have walked a couple of races already (last fall’s Pumpkin Push 5K and Seattle Marathon), and always seek to beat a 15-minute-per-mile walking pace. I may not be much of a race walker, but I am a power walker (my arms just don’t crank excessively like the faster walkers). I intend to do longer walking events (half-marathon and marathon) and incorporate small bits of careful running in those events (in doing the Seattle Marathon Walk, I noticed many walkers running certain parts of it).
Please also know that my physical therapist, Rebecca White, faces this same issue with her knees. She has pretty much discontinued running, except for the occasional jaunt on a trail, to preserve her ability to walk in future years. The sad truth for me is that the less I run, the better my ankle feels; the sadder truth is that there is still pain no matter what.
Anybody know of a miracle cure? Please leave a comment if you do.
As for Saturday’s 5K at Green Lake, I will find a way to deal with the fact that a male runner wearing a dark, full-length dress suit, white shirt, bow tie and tennis shoes, as well as a woman dressed in a white mid-length wedding dress and wedding veil, both passed me in that last stretch. It was disappointing but still fun to be out there with everyone.
Till next time.