I mentioned in my most recent race report that I've been experiencing some achilles stiffness and that I deduced that my shoes were too small. I promised I'd fill you all in, and so I shall! So here's the short version, in a timeline format;
- Late November: Get my first ever fitting for a real pair of running shoes, lay down $100 in cash.
- Early December: Take first run in new shoes and notice toes go numb, chalk it up to new shoes needing to be worn-in.
- Mid-December: Notice (on mile 5 of an 8-miler) that my toes are bumping into the front of my shoe and it hurts. Consciously decide to scrunch toes to keep them from bumping so I can finish my 8 miles without walking.
- Late December: Charlie horses and stiff calves are my constant companion. I'm clueless as to why. Start feeling stiffness just below my calf.
- Christmas Vacation: I point to where my legs are stiff and ask a running friend "what is this?" Find out it's my achilles. Make note to self, "google achilles stuff."
- January 2nd: Take short 2 mile easy run in preparation for first 10k of the year, where I will attempt to set a new PR. Notice my stiff achilles are REALLY stiff and those two miles feel like I'm sludging through concrete. I tend to whine a lot the first two miles anyway, so I push through it anyway. Get home and google, and find this info about achilles tendonitis. Based on descriptions of severity I figure I'm in the earliest possible stages (no popping sounds or pain when I'm not running) and that I have lots of time to deal with it. Can't figure out why in the world it'd be flaring up now.
- January 3rd: Run my second 10k, set a new PR. Connect all the dots in my head while running,
"muscles that are tight and rigid can transfer a greater amount of force through the tendon and cause greater stress and chance of injury..." My calves were tight first, I remember noticing that. Oooh... and then before that I noticed I was squinching my toes because they were bumping... wait... could my shoes be too small?? NO!!
As soon as I got home I searched through my spam folder for an email from Fit Right Northwest, where I'd bought my shoes. I remember them saying they would email me to check in, and I'd been waiting for it but never put their email in my "not spam" thingy to make sure it didn't get into the spam folder. And I found it. I searched their website for a phone number and came across their 30 day exchange policy. Then I checked my email for the purchase date, did some calendar math and realized I was a full week past the exchange deadline. I actually almost cried. I emailed to check in and see if I could talk to someone about my situation.
Putting $100 down on shoes was a pretty big deal for me. Knowing that my shoes might be too small, and that I might have to choose between laying down another $100 (which is NOT an option right now), running myself into an injury (not good stewardship of my body), or ending my training until I could afford the right shoes (which would mean goodbye to the half marathon), was a really sad place to be in while I waited to hear from them. They would be completely in the right to leave me stuck with my shoes, as I was past the exchange window and had already put nearly 60 miles on them. I was stuck and feeling really discouraged. It was one of those situations where you have to decide what you're going to do with your heart while you wait. You can either get all invested in things going the way you want, and end up feeling either entitled (if it does go your way) or bitter (if it doesn't) - or you can acknowledge that you're not in control and don't have any hope of fixing things yourself and trust that if it DOES happen, it's only going to happen because God provides it. Then you can either be thankful (if it does go your way) or you can grieve with hope, knowing that God knows what He's doing and that the most important thing is that you believe He is good and has your best in mind.
I do have great news to report. :) I ended up connecting with the customer service rep for Fit Right, and she had me come down to the store to assess my fit the same day I talked to her on the phone. She took one look (and a little feel) of my foot in the shoe and said, "those are obviously too small for you!" Then she re-measured my foot, noting that my second toe is longer than the first. I apologized and told her I'd always had trouble buying shoes because of my weirdly short big toes. (Seriously, I should show you guys pictures - the left big toe is even a whole knuckle shorter than the right big toe!) She grabbed a shoe a whole size bigger and in a Wide and had me try them on and run up and down the hallway. It was glorious! My feet could breathe! My toes were able to flex! Then she packaged them up for me, did some things in her computer and sent me on my way with a brand new pair of shoes. For free! I did cry a little as I walked back to the car with my new shoes. Yay for Fit Right Northwest and their amazing customer service! And Yay for Jesus, for giving me a heart surrendered to Him in the middle of so much emotion over a material object. It's amazing how our hearts can get wrapped up in our "things" and the plans and dreams they represent to us. My prayer is that this entire journey would lead me closer to Jesus (by His grace), and that everyone who travels along with me in the blog-o-sphere would see His glory in my seemingly insignificant and trivial story. :)
I decided to take this week off to cross-train, to give my poor little gams a break. It's been three days since I ran the 10k and I'm definitely feeling like I'm ready for a run! Which is a good thing - because next week it's back to training, and my next long-run is supposed to be 9 miles. No more kid stuff, we're breaking out the big guns! Stay tuned!