Whatever remedy keeps me running

Written on Sep 30th, 2015 by , Category Marlene Farrell Blog, Trail Running

It's difficult to hold back running during the fall months in Leavenworth.

By Marlene Farrell

The acrid smell of burnt rice and sock lingers. It’s no better or worse than anything else tortured in the microwave. I guess the sooty crust always smells like that, whether from the combustion of grain or synthetic fiber.

It’s the smell of another feeble attempt to rid myself of plantar fasciitis. Every morning upon waking I feel its bruising precision on my right heel.

A friend suggested warming up my heel with a sock packed with dry rice. Yesterday the microwaved sock was warm for an hour, and I massaged my heel back and forth over it while I worked at the computer. Today I hesitated before punching three minutes on the microwave. That did seem awfully long. But it worked yesterday …

After taking the recycling to the garage, I returned to my mistake, a microwave coughing up smoke and an incinerated mess on my sock. I threw open the back door for some fresh air and scraped off the blackness like that on burnt toast.

I can’t seem to help opting for “quick fixes” that allow me to keep running. So I amble around the house in sandals, even while changing clothes, and consider showering in them. When I catch myself walking with a lopsided prance to unweight my heel, I take a moment to perform a 10-second stretch, pulling up on my toes and massaging my arch. How conscientious of me to stop and stretch for 10-second intervals!

I should know better after suffering a cataclysmic ankle break that left me water jogging and doing isometric exercises for months, as I aimed to be a star PT patient.

But I am over that and ready to be healthy and carefree. Besides, the timing is all wrong. Fall is my runner’s Mecca, and I’m not going to let a half dollar-sized annoyance hold me back. Fall means brisk air that awakens me, spreading in tingling fashion from fingertip to core. How can I skip a day when I’d miss the latest shade of the maples? What about catching up with friends whom I haven’t seen in so long given everyone’s travels and varied summer rhythms?

Pavement and hills are particularly harmful to plantar fasciitis. I avoid the former by indulging in the latter. If town trails, with their dew and pine needle softness, are cushions beneath my feet, then the higher trails are that and more. They lead me to thimbleberry, huckleberry and fireweed in burnished hues. They afford me sweeping views above to higher peaks and below to diminutive lakes of shy green or shocking blue. They wrap me body and soul in the contentment of alpine splendor.

The snowy dusting on a recent trail run reminds me that the simplicity of running with just water in the mountains will soon be off-limits. More planning and a backpack of gear will be essential. I jot down three-hour to half-day running escapes on future calendar squares in optimistic ink. I am armed with a new rice-filled sock (there’s a drawer full of options), microwaved for only a minute, rolling beneath my foot. And there’s December, when I can hang up my running shoes and rest my foot from the concussion of running. Skate skiing won’t do any harm, right?

Marlene Farrell is a Leavenworth resident, long-distance runner and coach with the Peshastin-Dryden Striders kids running club. She’s also a heck of a good writer.

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