Sunday, February 26, 2012

A ballet inspired come-back

My friend Marnie had been following progress of my big toe. I had to have the toe nail surgically removed. You can hear about it and see it here if you dare. She knew that I wanted to get back running as soon as I could and had seen how sore it had been. She was kind enough to bye me this...

Initially I wasn't sure where she was going with it but she explained that ballet dancers use wool to pad the toe of pointe shoes. You'll notice that Pillows for Pointes lambs wool is sterilized for purity. Unless ballet dancers eat the wool after their performances, I'm not sure how sterile the wool really needs to be. It's for stuffing sweaty shoes for crying out loud! I was also amused to see that this one ounce sack of goodness was inspected by Aunt Fleecia. The whole point of having an "Inspected by" note is so that people have confidence that a real person worked on the product. Apparently Pillows for Pointes feels that it is worth making consumers doubt the integrity of all "Inspected by" notes just so that they can have a little word-play with "fleece!" You are playing with fire PfP and that is a bad thing for a company who deals in wool.

Marnie told me that when she used to dance, she used wool like this. What she remembered the most was how it was fine enough to protect without feeling like it took up space in the shoe. She thought that I would appreciate having some protection without having to have a dressing or something that would fill-up the toe box. It was a very thoughtful and insightful idea. I thought I would give it a shot, especially since I tend like to run sock-free as much as possible. I tried to wrap it around my toe but it kept coming loose inside my New Balance Minimus Road 10's. I thought about taping it to my toe, I even thought about filling the toe box entirely with the wool but in the end, I gave up. I just wanted to run without anything changing my gait so that my knee experienced a well balanced first run.

The wool failure led to another good idea. The New Balance Minimus Trail 10's have a massive toe box that is pretty soft. The only trouble is that the rubber strap that goes across the metatarsals had been tight on the left foot when I bought them (a known issue for some people) and had become unbearable after I fractured the foot. The bone had thickened around my metatarsils. You can see the X-ray in this post. I remember reading on some blog about someone cutting the strap and was happy with the results. I decided that cutting the strap was better than permanent retirement. I cut the the left shoe strap and decided to repeat the procedure on the right because I wanted balance. The shoes are probably not as sock-like as they were but are still a snug fit. There is no discomfort from the straps at all now. I hated cutting them and making them visually imperfect but I am delighted to get my old favorite shoes back in rotation. As you can see from the left shoe in the picture, the space is wider where I cut it because that foot needs a little more room.

So, with some old friends on my feet and the excitement of a first run after 3 weeks of knee and toe issues, I planned to go out with my son Charlie (6). He has been asking me about our next run and that has made me very happy. As some of you will remember, I was having a hard time connecting with him. You can read about it here. Our relationship has been great lately and I credit it to many things—running being one. He is a great kid. A wrecking ball but also a sweet boy with an infectious lust for life. I was so surprised how quick he was to identify what he needed to wear for the weather. He even picked out a pair of Maggie's leggings to wear as running tights. Without prompting, he selected a lighter pair of gloves, so that his hands wouldn't get overheated. A real pro.

The Humboldt Park run was fantastic. The 12 minute a mile pace with Charlie was perfect for my first run. I just wanted a great experience with no knee pain and that's just what I got. Charlie chose to run around the perimeter of the park instead of through it. It was a good call. The internal paths would probably have had too much ice on them. The sun shone across the lake and was just warm enough on the face to take the edge of the winter bite. You couldn't help look in it's direction. We ran, we talked, we laughed and we raced.  Every time there was a sign post, Charlie took off and told me (conveniently late) that it was "first to the post." He was so happy to win these short sprints every time. He did his usual veering off the sidewalk to run on the ice and snow which inevitably led to him wiping out. He thought it was hilarious. He didn't seem tired and managed to run the entire 2 miles without a stop—that's a first. We stopped by the lake when we finished the loop and Charlie threw large blocks of ice into the water and made the geese real nervous. He was thrilled to be going home to tell mom he ran 2 miles non-stop. He even asked if we could go again the following day. Why not I thought!

A part of me wants to get an email from an 87 year old Aunt Fleecia after writing this post. I'd have to apologize for not believing she was real but it would be worth it. As for the wool, my daughter Maggie (7) will be delighted to use it for all sorts of art projects and who knows, I may try the toe wrap again, especially if I wear shoes with a smaller toe box like my Kinvara's.

It was a good day. My sinus infection is lifting, my knee pain seems gone and my toe is healing perfectly. I had a fun run with a fun kid. I feel uplifted. The World seems brighter to me through running colored glasses  :-)

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