Foot Fault: NYC Marathon Update

Feels like deja vu all over again. It's now less than two weeks to redemption race number three at the New York City Marathon, and the "I" word which should be a four letter word (it's actually six) has reared it's ugly head again--this time in my foot.

On May 18th this year, I started a ferocious rehabilitation campaign to get my left hip in shape for the TCS NYC Marathon. This routine had 1-2 visits a week in either a physical therapist office, chiropractor, active-release therapy, massage, or New Orleans-style voodoo witch doctor. I did everything short of the later and made slow progress. I was in denial about the torn hip labrum pain that still persisted in my hip, but I kept to the in-home or gym rehab component which meant 20-30 minutes a day, six days a week of strength and stretching.
The Nile River from my hotel room

Then denial met the Nile and brushing my teeth threw a wrench in my plans. Confused? Follow me for a minute. I've dealt with a lot of travel in my marathon training over the years and the more challenging aspects of global travel. While it may sound glamorous, Moscow, Cairo and Dublin created my latest hurdle. I have experience with food and water issues in challenging cultures...Mexico, and India. Basic rule is don't drink the water, don't order drinks with ice cubes, and avoid fruit perhaps rinsed in water.

Cairo did me in. On the last leg of my trip, the nastiest bug possible quarantined me to a hotel in Dublin for two straight days where I dealt with a stomach bug, fever, and chills. The culprit? My hotel in Cairo overlooked what's known as the most polluted river in the world, and I remembered, I brushed my teeth with tap water. Oy vey.

The upside is I lost nearly six pounds and put me at my ideal race weight and lost a number of training sessions over ten days. I was able to overcome this as I was far enough out from the marathon, that a few missed days wasn't going to affect race day. Despite this logic, I replayed the month leading up to my 2015 Boston Marathon where (due to the torn hip labrum that wasn't diagnosed yet,) I "lost" nearly an entire month prior to the race and showed up without the appropriate conditioning.

At this point, you're saying, what the heck does brushing your teeth have to do with this "setback?" After regaining my strength, I resumed my training plan, but my system was still a bit toxic and acidic. This brought on "curveball" number three with the onset of gout in my left big toe. If you're not familiar with gout, it's known as the "rich man's disease." Too much in the way of rich food, steak, wine and the like. If you're never had gout, a serious case has pain so intense that dragging a bed sheet over your toe sends pain that ranks around a nine out of ten.
My bum wheel

Conventional wisdom would say, treat the toe and avoid running, and get back on schedule shortly. Again, with the Boston "layoff" messed with my mind and I proceeded to run an aggressive eight mile speed and tempo run. Stupid...just plain stupid. I couldn't walk without a limp, and cringed as I stuffed my swollen foot in my Adidas Ultra Boost shoes. The following day, the hip felt great, the gout toe still hurt, but the opposite side of my left foot felt worse.

The problem was I altered my run gait and basically ran on the side of my foot. The ensuing pain was around the area of the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot. I've gone through three different prescriptions to calm down the gout, but after the speed workout on Tuesday, I had my last long marathon simulated run of 20 miles that weekend. I tried to make it happen on Saturday, but the pain was too intense.. I tried again on Sunday. The foot felt better, but certainly wasn't pain free. Like many run injuries, they sometimes "loosen up" once I get into the run.

The long run was complete so I'd "checked that box," but once again the foot hurt again after the run. This was all three weeks out from Boston. I've hit the physical therapy on the foot hard using a combination of chiropractor treatment, dry needling, laser treatment and even cryogenic treatment.

Four days ago, one of my specialists "read me the riot act" on "why did you do that," and "do you realize that's the most common area for stress fractures?" Are you fricking kidding me? A stress fracture??? I've been down this curved path before and the only way to tell for sure is an MRI. Aside from all the above treatment I've gone through in the last couple weeks, I've used compression, ice, heat (more ice than heat,) and a stim tens unit at home. For the moment, I'm "grounded" with no running to try and calm down this foot. With less than two weeks to go, there's not much I can lose with my run conditioning so I have to be smart.

All this because, I brushed my teeth in Cairo.


  1. That's a shame to hear all the trouble you're having, but as always, it's admirable to see the work you're still putting in to make your goals happen. Wishing the best for you and hope NYC Marathon still works out for you.

  2. Ugh ugh ugh. I hope it isn't a stress fracture. I don't have gout but I have issues with my left big toe (arthritis) and have spent time in the boot...I'm happy that it was quiet all through marathon training and the marathon. Fingers crossed that everything settles down.


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