I think the reason most athletes deal with pain better than the rest of the population is that we pretty much always have something wrong with us, be it a pulled muscle or bone bruise or old injury flare-up. Pain on some level is involved in most of our daily lives, so dealing with it (and/or ignoring it) becomes the natural state of things. Swimmers, I admit, get off easier than most, since we have essentially no impact in our sport. But I have about ten years of 'history' with my right heel, on which I had an operation for a bone deformity at age 13, and for the past two weeks or so, it's been bothering me again. A lot.
The difference is that it's not in the same place, not the same pain I'm used to on the back of the Achilles' tendon. This time, there's one particular spot that hurts particularly badly - much the same quality of pain as when I had the problem before - and then the resulting rings of duller pain radiating from it. If the heel had a 'corner' where the inner side meets the bottom, that spot, near the back, is the place where it hurts. I've had X-rays, and the health care center insists that I do not have a bone spur - though that is certainly what it feels like, based on prior experience - but that I must have just messed up some ligament or another at the spot where it attaches to the heel bone. The doctor recommended trying crutches for a week, since two weeks' worth of ice, pills, and gritting my teeth and going on with my life hadn't done much.
So I agreed. OK, I thought. This'll be easy. I did this for almost a year in seventh grade, and it was no sweat.
What I was forgetting was that (a) I have had swimming-induced shoulder injuries since then, (b) I am now a good 40 pounds heavier than I was at age 13, and (c) a campus is much, MUCH bigger than a middle school building.
Those are all very subtle ways of saying that today, my arms couldn't take it anymore. I made it all day Monday and Tuesday (albeit with a lot of 'half-walking' on those crutches, where my foot wasn't fully off the ground), but last night, when I could no longer raise my extended arms above chest level without intense pain, I drew the line. The fact is, I need my shoulders and arms a lot more than I need my foot. For swimming, yeah, but for pretty much every other bit of daily life, too. And frankly, I'm used to having a bum foot. I'm used to the pain. I'm used to not being able to walk quite right. The crutches were probably a good idea, and it probably would have been better if I could have stuck it out until Friday like I was supposed to, but I just couldn't. I want the smallest number of dysfunctional body parts that it's possible to have, and eight weeks before the Tampa Bay swim, I do not want my shoulders included in that number.
So I'm biking to school - since biking doesn't hurt and actually involves less total walking than does taking the bus to and from campus - and popping Monique's Advil morning and night, elevating my right leg practically 24/7, and using ice packs like they're going out of style (although the foot now has to play second fiddle to the shoulders in that department).
So far, there isn't that much of a difference. And the only reason I really care is because I have the River Run in two and a half weeks. I see that race take place every spring - it's an institution in Jacksonville, drawing around 12,000 competitors each year - and I want to be a part of it at least once in my life. I'm not running to win - just to be there. This could possibly be the last spring I spend in Florida - for a few years, at least - and I want to participate.
What I've decided is to attempt the TriGators' sprint triathlon on the 5th - which I was going to do anyway - and see how that goes. The running leg is extremely short; only 1.5 miles. If I'm in a lot of pain during that event and think it would be better to scratch the River Run after that race, then I will. But I don't want to punk out if I can avoid it, because I don't know when or if I'll get the chance to do this again.
Anyway, so that's basically all that's been going on in my life this week. Plus I have my second phone interview with that camp in Maine tomorrow; I'm feeling optimistic about my chances. I'll let you all know how it goes.
Also, big things happening in the rest of the blogosphere this week: ALICE is headed to Amsterdam (*is v v jealous*), HAL is going back to rowing, and JULIA, who has one truly awesome and gifted kid already, is pregnant!!! This is pregnancy #11, and the whole Internet is crossing their fingers that this will finally be baby number two. So show her some comment love if you get a chance.
Closing thought: I utterly despise the chick these days, don't get me wrong, but is it bad that I really don't think Britney Spears is actually all that fat?