Lately

Oh, let’s just grab-bag it.

Atlanta

The week after the century, I flew to Atlanta for work. It was my first time in the city — outside of many connecting flights and that one time I took a cab to Woodfire Grill during a layover so I could fangirl Kevin Gillespie when he was still cooking there — and despite spending most of my time from Friday night-Thursday morning in a hotel conference room, I managed to get out and see some things. And eat some things. Like: grits at Flying Biscuit, grits at Silver Skillet, grits covered in a blanket of fried cheese at Thumbs Up, a burger with green pepper jelly and chipotle cream cheese at The Vortex, a shrimp po’boy at Villains, lobster ravioli at Seven Lamps, this insane thing with crispy rice and corn puree and a farm egg at Empire State South, polenta cakes at Argosy East, and all of the food — but especially the Jamaican hot pockets and steak frites — at Gunshow (where, sadly, Kevin Gillespie was not present for me to fangirl again). I also ate a vegetable now and then.

In Atlanta, I felt the most bummed I’ve felt yet about not being able to run — um, and given the above, I should probably make it clear that it wasn’t because of the food. Running is my favorite way to get to know a new city, and my Midtown hotel would have been a great home base — close to the Olympic Park, close to a big city park, and an area worth exploring more in its own right. On the other hand, I didn’t squeeze much time for exercise in between all the working, and while I might have been slightly more serious about making time if I’d been able to just throw on running shoes and go, I also might have spent longer feeling guilty about not running. (How’s that for a twisted positive?)

I did take a wander through the Olympic Park one day and managed one fairly lame hotel gym workout. The only thing I wanted to do was swim at the Georgia Tech pool — the 1996 Olympic pool! — but it’s only open to university affiliates, so that dream died pretty quickly. Instead, I got my one proper workout of the week at a Flywheel spin class, during which I officially decided that spin classes really aren’t for me. I never feel comfortable, the bikes don’t seem to fit me right, and I spend the whole time feeling grateful that riding outside doesn’t feel that awkward. But the music was good and it put me closer to my planned diner breakfast, so I’m still glad I went.

Pittsburgh

I think the whole reason I survived the Atlanta work schedule was knowing I had a long weekend trip to Pittsburgh coming at the end of it. I flew directly there from Atlanta and spent four days mostly going to the US Gymnastics National Championships, a scheme my mom and I cooked up approximately five minutes after realizing the event was going to be in Pittsburgh. The two of us got an all-event ticket package — thanks, mom! — and we saw every competition session besides the junior men. Highlights for me were the Friday night men’s preliminary round — which felt mostly like watching any college sporting event, with a slightly older crowd of spectators than we saw the rest of the weekend and lots of hollering and cheering and high-fiving between the competitors — and Saturday’s junior and senior women’s finals, even though the results were never that close in either.

I also stood next to Kim Zmeskal for about three seconds, watched Marta and Bela Karolyi interact and rekindled my dream of writing the unauthorized biography of their marriage, and generally had a weekend that my 12-year-old self would have only dreamed of. And now I follow a bunch of 16-year-old gymnasts on Twitter, because, sure.

My heel

…sigh.

Quick recap: Podiatrist diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis in July and sent me to physical therapy. Not much improved. Podiatrist and physical therapist started to disagree, pretty dramatically, on causes and treatment strategies. Podiatrist ultimately ordered an MRI. I saw him for about two minutes before leaving for Atlanta — and I think he’d had the MRI report for about two minutes before that — and was told the results showed nothing torn or broken and confirmed plantar fasciitis. I was sort of relieved, but also annoyed, because it seemed like something should have improved after PT, six weeks of no running, being at least a little more careful about my everyday shoes, etc.

At that point, I decided to get a second opinion from someone at a combo chiropractic/medical practice many friends swear by. They don’t take my insurance, but their private-pay rates for seeing someone on the chiropractic side were manageable (we will not speak of the rates on the medical side), so I booked an appointment there, assuming I was just going to get new ideas and strategies for treating plantar fasciitis. Instead: at appointment one, the chiropractor told me he didn’t think it was plantar fasciitis at all but either an injury to the fat pad in my heel or a stress fracture. (To which I confidently replied: “I had an MRI, and there’s no stress fracture!”) At appointment two yesterday, he said that in fact, having seen the MRI and the report, there’s not a stress fracture, but there is a stress reaction, which probably could have benefited from someone, you know, noticing and treating more aggressively (e.g. with a boot, probably) several weeks ago, and which there’s a good chance I’ve been making worse, or at least not making better, for the past two months while following the advice from a doctor and a PT who were treating a different problem.

So, I’m pissed — at my podiatrist, for shrugging off any idea that maybe it was a stress fracture the very first time I walked into his office, and at myself, for not deciding to just treat it like a stress fracture anyway. I mean, no, I haven’t run — OK, I jogged three blocks in Atlanta when I was running late, I did, I admit it! — but I also have tried using the elliptical, going back to Burn, doing the century (the chiro said biking might be OK as long as it wasn’t very hilly, so I’m guessing that had I been seeing him at the time, 5000′ of climbing wouldn’t have been what he had in mind), occasionally wearing flats instead of sneakers, and so on.

If I were a normal patient at this practice, I’d have one more appointment with soft-tissue work (mostly Graston so far) and then I’d get referred to the medical department. But, I’m not going to pay out of pocket for their medical department, especially not when I have insurance that other places do take. So I’m not really sure what the plan is — go back to the podiatrist who doesn’t think there was anything significant on the MRI and be all “sorry, buddy…”? Find another podiatrist in my network for yet another opinion? The soft-tissue work does seem to be making some difference, but it’s obviously not going to magically heal a bone if that’s the root of the problem. And compared to the first appointment, the second was much more downbeat; he seemed — maybe I’m reading too much into it — fairly sure that this was a ticket to bootville. Honestly, if that’s where we are, I don’t want to waste even more time with “one more round of Graston” and “one more week where you just wear sneakers every time you’re out of bed and only swim but don’t push off the wall.” I just want to get it over with. I actually want to go back in time and get it over with in July, rather than losing two months doing all the wrong things.

So next week, I guess, I’ll be figuring out my new strategy. But only after…

The Oakland Triathlon

Wait, what? Well: I signed up for the Olympic last November and switched my registration to the aquabike about a month ago. I fessed up to the chiro yesterday that I was still planning to do it, and his verbatim response was “oh, that’s fine.” I did swear to leave shoes at the swim exit and spend as little time barefoot as possible, but the bike course is pancake-flat and the swim is a swim, so he saw no reason for me not to race.

Er, sort of race. Before yesterday, my goal was to see how close I could come to a podium spot for the women’s aquabike (top 5 overall). But since I’m now going to be putting on shoes and then walking the quarter mile from the swim exit to transition, that seems pretty unlikely. My new goal is to try my best to enjoy myself and not hate being there. It’s my last race for who-knows-how-long, maybe my last time on a bike for a while, so I might as well at least try to have a good time. A lot of friends will be there, which is good and bad — I’m not really in the mood to interact with triathletes right now — but I think once I’m actually there, the energy will lift me up a little. And there are burritos at the finish. So how miserable can it be?

14 thoughts on “Lately

  1. Linda says:

    Thinking of you and cheering you on for a great race in Oakland. Hang in!

  2. clair says:

    Dang, I’m sorry your foot treatment hasn’t gone well. If you’re looking for a new podiatrist, Jane Denton at St. Francis is the best, she treats lots of athletes and in just generally awesome. Good luck! I hope you’re healed soon.

    • kimretta says:

      Ooh! My insurance only has about 15 approved podiatrists in SF (basically 3 practices worth + a couple of randoms) so I’ll have to see if she’s on the list! The whole Center for Sports Medicine at St. Francis looks great, and they *say* they contract with my plan … maybe there’s some way in! Thanks!

  3. Layla says:

    Well, that is certainly frustrating — to put it mildly. This might be a stupid question, but are podiatrists and orthopedists synonymous on your insurance company’s approved list? If not, look into orthopedic doctors. As for the MRI results, if it IS a stress reaction, that’s actually good news because it will fully heal. And maybe it caused the PR so that will also clear up once the stress reaction heals? At least you’re getting some answers.

    Meanwhile, I’ve never had grits, but it sounds like you ate enough of them for both of us. 😉

    • kimretta says:

      Good question – so, there are orthopedic doctors (handled separately from podiatrists), but most are surgeons, and I’ve had mixed results with that route when I’m not a surgical case. Do you have any advice/guidance/experience there? There is one non-surgical “sports medicine” specialist I can see, but I had a BAD experience with him and am not eager to go back.

      Meanwhile, it appears I can still change my insurance for this next benefit year, so all of this may be moot! I like some of my current providers and my coverage is good from a financial perspective, but honestly, I’m just over dealing with HMO restrictions.

      • Layla says:

        Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a podiatrist. And now that I look at my medical group (Sutter) doctors, they have a number of podiatrists. AND the first one I clicked on has done 100 triathlons (including Kona), 30 marathons (including Boston), and I kind of just want to go see him right now because he’s a badass. (However, I think my issues are in my hips/glutes, which isn’t really podiatry.)

        So, yeah, I think my question was stupid, but maybe I still think it’s ridiculous that one doctor didn’t see a stress fracture on your MRI and another one did. You definitely need to dump the blind one.

        • kimretta says:

          HA! I love this comment so much!

          Consensus is that it isn’t a stress fracture; apparently that would show up differently and more obviously. So at least I “know” that! It seems that a stress reaction is more a matter of opinion — in that, it could have been healing when it showed up on the MRI, or it could have been worsening, and since it’s just one image in time, we don’t know. I am now looking for a 3rd opinion, ideally from someone with eyes 🙂

  4. Jen says:

    Sorry to hear about your continuing foot troubles – it certainly sounds very frustrating! If it does turn out to be PF, my friend Mike wrote an excellent blog post about it recently, which maybe you’ll find helpful?
    http://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2014/08/04/plantar-fasciitis-treatment/

    Good luck finding the right treatment!

  5. runnertrish says:

    Sorry the foot is still not well =( Sending you positive healing vibes and hang in there… xo

  6. Michaela says:

    Oh man. So bummed to hear about the foot. And I’d be pretty pissed off too.

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