Or alternatively I would like to title this, "To Big Sur, Or Not to Big Sur"
First off, after hopping around on one foot last Tuesday in fairly significant pain, I awoke on Wednesday able to bear weight on my left leg. I was so amazed at the rate of recovery from Tuesday to Wednesday. However, things have been improving much more slowly ever since. I feel comfortable walking around. I would dare say that if I could guarantee my ankle would not roll, I could probably even run with no pain right now.
My ankle yesterday -- The swelling has gone way down but there is now a nice subtle black and blue color to the whole area. All those lines on my skin are from the non-stop compression junk I've been using.
I've mentioned the fact that I have sprained my left ankle in the past. In late 2007 I planted my left foot poorly and twisted my ankle. It was not as serious as this one (I never felt the need for crutches) though it was bad enough I took a week off from running. I got myself an ankle brace that you can run in, and trained for months for my first Goofy Challenge wearing that thing on every single run. It actually got to be more of a mental crutch than a physical one.
I didn't wear the brace during the races. It looks stupid and my ankle hadn't given me any problems for a while. At mile 26 (right by the infamous Gospel Choir) of the marathon I mildly rolled my left ankle. It was the type of roll that you would normally just catalog as a misstep with no pain, but with my ankle being weak it did hurt and it took me more than a few strides to shake it off. That incident really scared me. What if it had happened at mile 2? Could I have finished the whole race?
When I started running again after Goofy, the brace went back on. I ran Napa in 2008 a couple of months after Goofy (PR, baby) and this time I didn't leave the brace at home:
I mention this because once I start running I guarantee I'll be wearing that brace again for months to come. Sprained ankles are terrible in that they don't hurt at all with a forward running motion, but if you misstep and roll it, it can literally stop your run dead. With things like shin splits you know what you're dealing with, but an ankle twist or misstep happens suddenly.
There must be something about my running form which is off because I roll my left ankle 99.9% of the time. I rarely roll my right ankle. And as this incident shows, it isn't as if I am landing on uneven surfaces when it happens. Sometimes, something must be not working right because I just don't plant my foot flatly down.
I know from the past that I will have set backs in the coming months. I'll be out for a run and will roll the damn thing and and will take a few steps back in recovery (both mentally and physically). It will probably be a year before I am mentally clear of this ankle baggage. As such, I am rethinking my race calendar in the future.
First on the agenda, the Big Sur Marathon is 4.5 weeks away. I am at a minimum giving my ankle one more week off. That leaves 3.5 weeks to go from not running for two weeks (and it wasn't as if I was in great marathon shape pre-sprain) to 26.2 mile shape. It can be done but it won't be pretty. I have the option of downgrading to a shorter distance (9 miles) which I know is the smart thing to do. The race has given me almost a month more to submit my decision and I'm thinking I'll wait at least a week or two to see how it goes.
Part of me thinks I should downgrade now while the healing is good. I wouldn't even have to attempt anything longer than 7 miles for a month if I went that route. Another part of me is stubborn and refuses to believe I left both Oakland & Big Sur out on the pavement that day. Thoughts?