Q4 2015 was all about A LOT of travel. I don’t envy my husband, who not only travels for play, but for work as well. Trips to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Arizona and Mexico over late October and most of November were followed up by 3 days in Colorado visiting Geoff’s aunt, uncle and sister—2.5 days back in Solana Beach then off for 4 days in The Big Apple to celebrate Christmas with Geoff’s stepmother, Connie, and step sis and family. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a privilege to be able to travel and I love it, but by 11:45 p.m on the 27th, I was ready to be home.

Geoff and Maren during our carriage ride in Central Park. It was warmer in New York than it was in Solana Beach

Geoff and Maren during our carriage ride in Central Park. It was warmer in New York than it was in Solana Beach

One of the most encouraging things of Q4 was that I was consistently running. The pre and post weighted Eccentric Heal Drops (EHDs) were working and I was running without experiencing any pain—residual or otherwise. None of my runs were particularly long or hard but I was starting to feel like my athlete self. Biking and swimming took a back seat because of travel. But I didn’t care. Running is my drug. I’m lighter in thought, more clear-headed and happier when I can run. Give me a problem followed by a 5 mile run and that problem is solved.
Geoff spoofing Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg's most famous holiday skit

Geoff spoofing on Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg’s most famous SNL holiday skit

A couple of weeks before we hit NYC, I started to feel a little tightness on the outer ball of my left foot. Thinking it was just a slight bit of tendonitis, I rolled and massaged it. My shoulder and back were also glitched up for about 3 weeks—most likely from all of the plane travel. WTF–am I that broken at 48?
First time I've run 10 miles in probably 9 months. I was so happy to be running that I would screen shots of my watch to Kurt after each run.

First time I’ve run 10 miles in probably 9 months. I was so happy to be running that I would screen shots of my watch to Kurt after each run.

I was able to run 10 miles the week before Christmas and another 7 two days before. Nothing seemed wrong until our last day in NYC, when the ball of my left foot had little more “thereness” than previous days. Granted I hadn’t run at all in New York, but I had walked between 4.5 -7 miles a day in flat boots and wore heels Saturday night. We made it back to San Diego late on Sunday night and something seemed off. On Monday morning, December 28th, I woke up with more stiffness in the ball of my foot but was able to spend the day on my feet cooking. By Tuesday morning, it was worse and I bailed on a ride out at Great Western Loop and instead booked an appointment down at San Diego Sports Medicine (SDSM) with Dr. D. He was very thorough in his examination, applied the medieval “tuning fork” to the bones and took x-rays. While I was waiting for him to come back into the examination room for x-ray analysis, I teared up, grabbed a fistful of tissues and braced myself in anticipation for the dreaded “you have a stress fracture” news. However, nothing showed up on the x-rays. He told me that on a scale of one-to-ten with “ten” being an actual break; he thought I was a “4” and had a “Stress Reaction” as opposed to fracture. Um, okay!?! I dropped about 27 million  a few f-bombs as a wave of pessimism struck me that I’m doomed to be set back another 80 thousand two weeks. Dr. D’s prescription was boot it, cancel all exercise for a week (say what?) and come back next Tuesday.   I asked him to pull out his magical crystal ball and give me a roadmap (because all doctors have crystal balls, right?).  He told me that I very well could be fine after a week off but because of my history of lingering injuries. I was not optimistic.
Wednesday morning, December 30th, I woke up and wasn’t able to put any weight on my left foot. I spewed obscenities and booted up my leg. In my mind, this “stress reaction” wasn’t supposed to go from bad to worse—aren’t you rewarded with progress and not regression when you clump around in a boot all day? Geoff had to carry me up a couple of small flights of stairs #embarrassing. I borrowed a pair of crutches (thanks Nikki) and crutched around the morning doing some errands. I landed back on the couch and resumed my immersion course at the University of Google. I learned that 5th metatarsal fractures take the longest heal (go me!) and at 48 I do not have age on my side (even better!!). I called down to SDSM asking what to do. Dr. D. decided that he wanted to see me the next day.
I rolled into SDSM the next day (New Year’s Eve) at the appointed hour. 67 minutes later but who’s counting, I was seen by Dr. D. While wasting an hour waiting, I blew through “People” and “Us”, learned all about the Duggars and wondered why they got so much publicity traction. Does anyone really care that Kendall Jenner wore a tiny American Flag bikini or that Miley Cyrus still has short hair? After exhausting all of the available pop-cult-lit, I fell asleep on the exam table. Note to self: Schedule all doctor’s appointments at SDSM at beginning of the day.
Initial Diagnosis-Stress Reaction in the 5th metatarsal in left foot--you can see the swelling but I don't think it looks like Gout

Initial Diagnosis-Stress Reaction in the 5th metatarsal in left foot–you can see the swelling but I don’t think it looks like Gout

Dr. D. didn’t seem particularly surprised that I had graduated from a walking boot to crutches and threw out that there is a slight chance that I could have Gout and prescribed some meds for it. Gout? Really? Isn’t that a disease that wracks the bodies of corpulent older men who gorge on rich foods and alcohol? Were those craft cocktails and Christmas cookies the tipping point? Do I have Gout? What is Gout? I started a lower dose of the meds than prescribed and by the next day I could, once again, clump around comfortably in the boot. An exhaustive search on riveting subjects such as “Athletes and Gout”, “Gout and the 5th metatarsal”, “Is it a stress fracture or Gout?”, “Side effects of medicine “x”, “Ironman triathletes and Gout” and much much more left me believing that I have some sort of low grade stress fracture (it’s amazing how much time I can spend at University of Google when I’m NOT training). I was a little worried about the high-test meds I had been popping, but on the upside, my back and shoulder pains completely disappeared.  Did you know that Dancing with the Stars winner and celebrated football player Emmitt Smith has Gout?
Fast forward to Sunday, January 3rd. I’m a week-ish into my training being thwarted by this stress fracture/Gout/stress reaction thing. Our social schedule has been crammed and I’ve spent the week eating, drinking and being merry (as in indulging the 15 million brownies from the Julie Dunkle Bake Kitchen that I washed down with champagne on NYE). Well, I’m not really all that merry because I’m NOT RUNNING NOT CYCLING and NOT SWIMMING. I step away from the keyboard whenever I see a social media post about how one of my athlete friends is boo-hoo-ing about trying to get motivated for a workout.  I am so tempted to post some snarky comment along the lines of “Shut the F*ck up, at least you CAN train…”. I’m sure that I’ve gained back the 5 lbs that I actually lost between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The only thing that is saving Kurt from me bending his ear about my new injury is that it is a holiday week and I am mindful about his time with his family and respite from his athletes as I’m sure he’s going to be hit over the head with first of the year athlete craziness tomorrow morning.
Vegan Falafel from the Halal Guys. Best. Sandwich. Ever (because doesn't everything taste better after midnight?)

Vegan Falafel from the Halal Guys. Best. Sandwich. Ever (because doesn’t everything taste better after midnight?)

I will write a lengthier post on our trip to NYC, but I can’t end this one without a mention of some the BEST food I had in New York.  There was a lot of good food…..but the most memorable was the Halal Guys food carts that we stumbled upon when walking back to the hotel from Craft Cocktail Bar #1 on the first night. We ordered a vegan falafel sandwich and took it up to the Starwood Club at the Sheraton. It was so good that Geoff went back for another. For five dollars, you get perfectly seasoned falafel, some cabbage-y-onion-y slaw matter and options for both or either hot and white sauces. The falafel and accompaniments are wrapped in oh-so-fresh pita #gogluten.    We repeated the gluttonous activity of Late Night Falafel Sandwich Eating After Midnight the following two nights. I was patting myself on the pack that I was staying up past midnight until Geoff pointed out that I was still on California time. Of course…….
3rd night of late night Falafel 12:34 p.m. post dinner + broadway show + craft cocktails.

3rd night of late night Falafel 12:34 p.m. post dinner + broadway show + craft cocktails.

Just a #northcountyproblems thought: Do you think that my intake of gluten caused my stress-reaction-gout?
I hope to get back to training soon.   At this age, I’ve decided that racing is less about ability and more about getting to the start line in one piece. If that happens, it should be a good season.
And I’m joking about the gluten.  Happy 2016. Cheers everyone!