This is a story of my Berlin Marathon which was on September 30th but first…
Want to see something cool?
This here is an X-ray of a left foot with a broken 4th metatarsal.
Ouchy right? Actually this fracture is called a “green branch” fracture because of the way it just spits out all over the place. These are bad fractures that take six to eight weeks to heel.
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. This tissue is called the plantar fascia. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. It can be very painful. Runners usually get this from going long distances in old shoes. Plantar fasciitis can takes months and months to heel…oops I mean heal.
On August 18th I got up at 5am went down to the lakefront to get in my step back 12 miler. I had taken my Advil prior to the run because my plantar fasciitis was killing me. I had felt this little pinch every so often in my left foot…near the top left. This was odd because the heel pain I’d made for weeks was on the bottom. As I was running on the cinder path I felt a snap. I stopped. Shook my leg a bit and continued on. It hurt but after a mile I got used to it. I finished the final 4 miles and went home.
Driving home my foot was now throbbing and I was afraid of what I’d find once I took the sock off…which wasn’t good. The foot was quite swollen on top and sensitive to the touch.
I made an appointment to see the foot doctor on Monday afternoon.
She took an X-ray and told me I didn’t have a stress fracture. I had a fracture fracture…and it would take at least six weeks to heal. At that point the Berlin Marathon was, of course, six weeks away. There would be no more training.
As the doctor’s assistant was adjusting the walking boot I was to wear for the next six weeks he looked up at me and said “You’re still going to run the marathon aren’t you?” I said “The only way I won’t run the marathon is if I tore my retina again OR you chopped off both of those feet”.
You see my wife and I run for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team (Team Schober) and we had raised over $10,000 in the fight against cancer and I was not going to let one little bone stop me from at least trying to finish this marathon. The people I run for, and in honor of, are people who have gone through a lot worse than a little broken bone. There are 26 bones in your foot. The other 25 would have to suck it up.
So I wore the boot…for about four days. The reason I stopped wearing the boot was because after four days the fracture didn’t hurt any longer. Plus my right heel was killing me from all the extra work it was doing. But this was a bad idea. You see because I took the boot off the bone wasn’t really healing correctly. Part of it was but another part wasn’t.
So I have two confessions to make. 1) That X-ray up there was taken just 10 days before the marathon. 2) I’m an idiot.
For the weeks prior to that X-ray I had been riding the bike trainer like a mad man to keep up the cardio and also taking massive amounts of vitamins…D3, calcium, liquid magnesium among others. All along I had absolutely zero pain around that fracture. None. My heels still hurt like hell but not the break.
So the wife and I flew to Berlin, caught some sights, went to the expo (which was massive by the way), had a few German beers and tried to relax before the race.
But I was worried. What if the bone snapped again at mile one…or mile eight…or mail 15? What would I do? What could I do? Would the pain be too much to finish? How much more damage would I do if I kept going after it broke again? I had to finish this race. I had to finish this race for the people I was running for. An injury had kept me from running for my supporters last year. It was not going to happen again.
So now it’s race morning. My wife was getting ready. This was to be her 18th marathon so for her this was cake (also she’d be running the Chicago Marathon one week later for DNation). I taped up both feet. I also taped up some toes on the bad foot. Slipped on my compression socks and headed to the start corrals.
This was going to be interesting.
It was a perfect day for running. Sunny and about 50 degrees. There were a lot of announcements in German. I assumed they were saying something like “Look at the idiot about to break his foot again!”
Then the countdown began. As I crossed the start line I tapped my DetermiNation shirt for luck and started running…something I hadn’t done in over six weeks.
The crowds were amazing. I was slapping hands and getting into a good slow pace. I had taken my doctor’s advice and didn’t take any Advil before the run. She said it would mask the pain and that’s a bad thing when you know you have to run 26.2 miles.
At about mile 4 I knew it was going to be OK. I just did. I had no pain anywhere. Then I was at mile 10. Then I was at the half. Then at 17…the longest I had run all year.
Then at about 18 or 19 my quads started to really burn. Then my left hamstring had a twinge. So I slowed. I ran to about 20.5 when I felt a pinch on the top of my right foot. The right foot was my good foot! Was I about to snap a metatarsel in that foot? My wife would’ve killed me. I wasn’t running smart! So I stopped. I had some water and a banana and ran/walked to the 1K to go sign where I started running again. I turned the final corner and there in front of me was the Brandenberg Gate…the FINISH!
My time really sucked. When I was told what it was I just laughed. 5:28:52
But I really don’t cared. And neither do my wife, kids, family members, doners, supporters, co-workers or pets. This run was for the cancer survivors, victims, care givers, doctors, researchers, nurses and scientists who fight to cure this lousy desease every day. This was for them. I owed them one.
I also know one other thing. There’s no way I could’ve finished this marathon if I wasn’t wearing the DetermiNation blue.