Saturday, August 30, 2008
Also enjoyed a lovely run through the trails along the edge of the San Juan National Forest. Including a little venture onto private property. Wasn't spotted trespassing. Well, expect by the deer.
After leaving Pagosa we detoured east to Wolf Creek Pass along the Continental Divide Trail.
Hiked for an hour or more on the trail from the Lobo outlook. Wow - what fantastic views. This is definitely a trail for running!! Taos is a cool spot. There's an Arts Festival on for the weekend so we're going to check that out now and then head out to one of the ski areas for some hiking. And then Santa Fe before home on Monday... but that's TWO whole days away so no need to think about it just yet. And anyway, home means just a few short days until Sawtooth. I am ridiculously excited about it. It literally is the first and last thing I think of each day and hundreds of time throughout the day. I had better not end up falling 10 miles into the race and have to pull out as I might just not ever get over it :)
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We started off the day with a return visit to Arches NP to see Delicate Arch - I'd been there during my trip last February but Teresa didn't get to see it on Monday as it was getting late and the sky was no longer blue. Wow - equally worthwhile second time around! We scrambled all the way around the far side to get some excellent views with nothing but blue sky in the background...
Ended up spending way longer out there than we'd planned so it was well past check-out time but the hotel folks were very pleasant - they knew us by now as our 1 night stay turned into 2 and then 3! Before getting on the road for Durango we indulged in a scrumptious brunch at the Eklectic Cafe. The drive here took just over 3hrs including a stop enroute in Cortez (for a Haagen Daz lunch). We debated stopping in Mesa Verde NP but decided we'd were a little NP'd out at this stage and had seen pretty spectacular 13th century ruins in Canyon de Chelly so we were good on the culture side of things.
Arrived in Durango a little before 5pm to be told 'no vacanies' at hotel after hotel due to a motorcycle rally in town this week! Shucks - didn't exactly plan that well. But thankfully we found a place a short walk from town center after some more searching. As we'd driven through town we were delighted to see so many cute stores, neat looking restaurants and coffee shops. And lots of bookshops. This would definitely be a place to wander about for a morning. Teresa was going to do some exploring while I went for a run so we made plans to meet up downtown for dinner later.
I set off expecting to run for an hour through some neighborhoods. But before long I found myself on a road named 'Mount View Ave' that seemed to be heading straight up into the hills. After about 5 minutes I spotted what looked like a trail and then a sign for 'Durango Mountain Park'. Super! What an unexpected treat. But it got better. I ran through a maze of gravel/earthen hilly trails for about 10 minutes and then found myself ascending a pretty steep climb behind 2 guys. They seemed to know where they were going so I figured I'd follow them. That lasted all of 2 minutes as I overtook them and saw there was only one trail and it was going all the way to the top. 10 minutes later I was atop a 7,484 peak!! So much for an easy 6 mile run. I'd just climbed almost 1000ft in 30 minutes. Does this mean Steve was correct in his prediction of me not being able to avoid a tough workout?? Maybe not, my calves ached but it was short. The run down was kinda rough but fun!
What a delight to happen upon such beautiful trail. I only wish I had more time in this area. I think the San Juan Solstice race in June will be added to the calendar! Looking forward to exploring the town a little more in the morning. We had a delicious pasta dinner at Guido's accompanied by a nice Italian red. I was going to abstain for the 2 weeks before the race but that seemed altogther too much like hard work.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008
And if I ever get to master rock climbing I'll try bouldering next - yes, people 'climb' these... some routes involve circling the boulder - I can't imagine the mess one's fingers would be in after that journey!
After our exertions on the wall we picked up some lunch and had a picnic along the Colorado River just north of town. And then a dip in the ~60F water. It felt so good given the heat of the day. We've had temps well in the 90's most days - real summer weather at last!
Yesterday afternoon we toured around Arches NP and this evening we headed up to Canyonlands NP. I'd been to Arches last year but Canyonlands was all new. And equally spectacular. Difficult to know what direction to look in - everything is worth taking in! Mesa Arch was definitely one of the highlights...
Next time I come here I want to run this trail! It curves right around the edge of the canyon several hundred feet above the base. The only problem is the views across the valley are so beautiful I may have difficulty staying on trail. Steve mentioned in his Sawtooth predictions that I have a tendancy to fall when tired. It's not even when I'm tired - I just like to take in the views (and have a tendancy to daydream) and forget that I need to focus more on where my feet should be!
Sunset at "Island in The Sky" was glorious...
And after dark we chilled out for a while in this serene setting. It was so peaceful lying on the rock looking up at the stars. In contrast, sitting on the edge peering down into nothingness was a little unnerving...
And then on the drive back we were treated to a lightening show. It was pretty amazing, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Tried to capture it on video with my camera...
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Sunday, August 24, 2008
Canyon de Chelly, AZ
Having a blast on hols with my sis. The plan was NM but somewhere between MSP and ABQ we looked at a map and realized that most of what we wanted to see in NM is in the northern and north western part of the state... and hey, isn't that Arizona over there, and Utah up there, and look - Colorado is just across the border! I know, I've been living in the States almost 4 years and I have a pretty good grasp of geography but I hadn't researched this trip at all so I just assumed we'd spend all of our time in New Mexico. But we do like to make the most of these trips... so I am sitting in a motel in Moab as I type this!
Highlights so far were a visit to El Morro National Monument yesterday and a fantastic drive and hike through Canyon de Chelly today.
Four Corners: AZ, UT, CO, NM
I plan to run for an hour in the morning - maybe the trails we ran for the 50K that Kami and I did here in Feb '07. That would be fitting - retracing some of my first Ultra steps just before my first 100 miler!
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Thursday, August 21, 2008
In 1998 I lost my childhood friend to this disease. We were both aged 21. It is to remember Nuala, and to support the more than 1000 children and their families that live with this disease every day in Ireland, that I ask you to consider donating. Any amount no matter how small is hugely appreciated.
In the years since Nuala passed I took up running and since moving to the US in 2005 I have discovered the joys of trail running. On September 5th I will attempt my first 100 mile race, the Superior Sawtooth. It is a point-to-point race on 100% trails on a course that follows the Superior Hiking Trail in Northern Minnesota along the north shore of Lake Superior. It is a very beautiful trail with (hopefully) enough scenery to keep me sane for the 30+ hours I will be running/walking/crawling.
Having completed a number of 50K and 50M races as well as numerous long training runs I've had plenty of time to reflect on how lucky I am to enjoy the life I've been given. To be blessed with good health, a loving family and wonderful friends. To wake up every day knowing I have the capacity to live life to the fullest and that the only thing standing in my way are the limits I place on myself. But not everyone is as fortunate. So if I can add meaning to my race by fundraising for CF it will make the effort all the more worthwhile.
Please click on this link to donate.
25 minute ice bath when I got home. My feet needed it they were feeling a bit tired. But I think I need to start adding more ice - it's not feeling quite as cold now that I am used to it!
Really looking forward to New Mexico. Will be great to chill out, not worry about work (though the laptop is coming with), and just hang out with my sis.
Wonder how the nerves will be this time two weeks...
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Got home and was feeling good so I decided I'd head for the Lakes. 9 miles. 1 warm-up, 7 @ 7min pace, 1 cool-down. It wasn't easy. But I felt strong. It was just one of those runs that make you so happy to be able to run. My left foot (problem child from a few weeks ago) felt a little tender mile 3-4 but went away after that. Similarly my right quad (odd pain that appeared Friday night) was aching a little in the middle of the run but was better by the end. Got home, stretched a little... I'm learning the hard way... then sat watching the Olympics with my feet in a basin of ice and an ice pack on my thigh!
Tomorrow will be an easy day and then more running Thursday. I'd been planning a hill workout at Afton but have decided I am better off not tempting fate on the gnarly terrain and will instead do Hyland ski hill. And then off to NM for the week. Easy runs at altitutde - it's all about increasing the red blood cell count :)
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Sunday, August 17, 2008
STOP reading if you don't want to know! Sorry for those folks who already read on before I added this. Thanks Keith :)
Bekele defended his title to take gold again and no medal for Gebrselassie who faded to 6th place towards the finish. Jamacia took 1-2-2 (tie for 2nd) in the 100m so no glory for Lauren Williams et al. Amazingly the golds in the 100m men's and women's this week for Jamacia were their first despite being strong in sprinting for as long as I've been watching the Games.
The reason I am sat watching TV in the first place is that my ankle is pretty sore this morning so no running. Or biking. I guess I could have biked - Pam and Karen were setting off from Plymouth at 8am but I decided I needed the sleep instead. And also still have a pain in my right quad so biking might not have been the best idea. No clue what's up with that but hopefully a massage this week will sort it out. Anyway I finally got a great long sleep! So I think a few days rest and I should be able for my last final workout by mid-week. Last fall Kami and I did this great session in Afton starting with the first hill on the race course - up and down that one, then the next one over, and the next one, and then the gravel one. And do it in reverse. And repeat...
We'll see. I'd better take care of the ankle. It is just annoying since it didn't feel that bad when I turned it. Will bike at some point this week also since I won't be doing any more of that until after Superior. In NM from next Friday until Labor Day so will just do some light runs. Indulged in a pair of Inov-8's yesterday. I'd been meaning to stop by TC Running store for the longest time and finally made it over there after meeting the girls at Little Long Lake for an afternoon swim. Nice shop - much bigger selection of gear than I remembered from my last visit which was probably well over a year ago.
Was looking up Leadville results earlier - sounded like tough conditions out there. Everyone did well to get to where they did. Not sure made it to the finish as the online tracker is down at the moment. Looking forward to hearing all about it. And the Pikes Peak Ascent which Kami, Cathy & Igor were doing (and also I think a few of the runner from Team Ortho) - heard from the guys last night that they were turned around 3m from the finish due to bad weather - so they ended up returning to the start for 20m instead of a half marathon!! Well, I guess they now know what the ascent and descent on that course feel like :)
Olympic coverage had turned to Fencing. I think it's time to turn off the TV.
end of post.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
So that is what I did. And had a new running partner to share the fun - Val, whom I'd met at Voyageur, and I were emailing yesterday and I was telling her about the run so she decided to join also. Worked out good as by the time we were ready to run at 8pm Matt, Zach and Bill were just in from a loop (#2 for Matt) and were taking a break. So the pair of us set off on loop #1. I'd been hoping to run 2 full loops and the was feeling pretty good for most of the first one. We had the headlamps out after about 40 minutes - just as we were attacking a fairly technical downhill - and were covering ground at a decent pace. Val asked me a few times if we were going too slow for me - er, No - in fact we were probably running faster than I ever have out there on a training run! We met Zach and Bill along the river as they were heading the opposite direction. Matt had stomach issues and had gone back to the car. Too bad for him but he's gotten some good night runs in out there so I think he is well set for Sawtooth.
We ended up at 2:45 for the loop but I had started to feel a pretty sharp pain in the center of my right quad so wasn't too happy about that. Totally new pain. I love it - couldn't have a week go by without a new one! I recall Adam mentioning some quad pain so I will have to check in with him to see if it was anything similar. Feels good as I write this now but I expect there's a lot of build up in my quads from the week's biking and running. Good thing I'm having weekly massages at the moment...
Setting off on loop 2 just after 11pm we weren't sure if we'd do the full one but the great thing about running out there is being able to cut it short if needed. Actually, that is kind of a bad thing really as it's too easy to pack it in :) But it made sense last night as I turned on my right ankle along the Back 40 Loop and it hurt pretty bad. Many years ago I tore ligaments in this ankle (long before I started running... very high heels on a rather drunken college night out) so it has always been the weaker one and I often roll it once or twice during a race but usually nothing that I feel for very long. But I knew last night's turn was a little worse than usual and my quad pain was not going away so when we got back down to the river from the campground hill we turned right and took the path back up to the carpark. A little disappointed not to have completed the second loop but no point in pushing through pain now. There will be enough of that in a few weeks time! Wynn and Duke arrived back to the carpark just as we were packing up to go. They were planning a second loop also. Not bad after a solid night session on the SHT Thurs for Wynn - he's in great shape for the race.
So 26 for the night. Unlikely to make my goal of 70 for the week unless the ankle improves dramatically by tomorrow but it's not the end of the world. Lots of icing and elevation today. I did ice it for quite a while last night - did my usual 20 minutes in the ice bath when I got home and then had my feet and ankles in a basin of ice for another 10-15 mins. Felt good at the time so I am a little surprised by how sore it is now. Feel like I put in some good quality runs this week anyway. Wednesday night was a tempo one along the Luce Line - myself and Eric were definitely pushing it but that nice flat non-pavement surface is the place to do it. Then Thursday evening we did 20 around the lakes and Minnehaha parkway. It had been quite a while since I ran that length on the road but it felt good.
Looking forward to watching lots of the Olympics in the coming days. I got to see some of the swimming and gymnastics last week but definitely want to see more of the track & field events. I have DVR but have no clue how to use it so I should really try to figure that out...
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Scary s**t. But I am super excited. I don't know why because there are more tough miles than easy miles on the course but I guess I don't run ultras for the easy stuff :)
Finally getting back into my yoga routine after a week+ off. Went back yesterday morning and then Deborah's class this morning. Brutal. But in a good way. Of course. Will probably make it again tomorrow and maybe Friday. It really helps loosen up my hamstrings in particular. And it's just a good workout. The class I go to is Vinyasa flow in a room at 80F so there's some serious sweating involved!
Biked 40 miles with Igor this evening - we were thinking of going to Prescott for the hills along 35 south but we decided to stay a bit closer to home. Started out along Co. Rd 20 just east of 494 and rode out to 95 - did a big loop including the lovely hills coming out of Afton village on 21 south. Boy, did those hills slow me down. Then a detour into the park itself to get another big climb in. Legs were feeling it. Tomorrow evening will be a run (after a massage which I hope will help the shoulders - pretty tight since the weekend). Hoping for a tempo run assuming the legs are recovered from today.
Came home from the bike ride to a scrumptious steak dinner - nothing like having a sister in town to feed you :)
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Sunday, August 10, 2008
The knee actually felt pretty good this morning despite it looking a mess. So I got up around 7am (the start of my sleep catch-up) and drove to Split Rock, left the car there and ran the road back to Gooseberry... found the trail after meandering around on the ski trails for a while - and made my way back to Split Rock. I think about 11.5 miles in total with the various diversions. First time I have ever ran the morning after a 20+ mile run. Took a bit of warming up but it was nice to stretch it out for a bit on the road. I enjoyed the trail this morning though I'm not a big fan of ski trails - especially since they'll make our feet wet! - but at least the race starts out pretty gentle and the next several miles are runnable for the most part. Fabulous overlook of Lake Superior about half way along this section.
Got back to the cabin around 10am and sat in the lake for a bit again. Nice this morning since the sun was really warm. And then we set off for home. With a pit-stop in Duluth to check out Duluth Running Co. Nice store. I easily managed to drop a few dollars, including the 10 bucks Wynn found on the trail yesterday! Don't worry I do intend to make a donation to the SHTA but the office in Two Harbors wasn't open this morning :) It was so odd, we just saw all these dollar bills on the path a few miles into the run so I stuffed them in to my baggie with my ID. Can't be leaving litter on the trail...
Great weekend all around. And not over yet - planning to take the girls to Broader's this evening for dinner. What a fantastic spot, a huge menu of scrumptious fresh homemade pasta dishes. And a nice Italian wine menu to go with it. Not to mention the amazing deserts. Though I should probably pass given the slice of pie I devoured earlier - I'd been told I couldn't go by Betty's Pies one more time without stopping in. No kidding... I recommend the Rasberry Rhubarb Crunch!
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Saturday, August 9, 2008
I wasn't sure how I'd feel given my average 5hrs sleep a night this week and a 115 mile bike ride on Thursday but it went surprisingly well! I hope I didn't slow Wynn down too much but it was great to have company and I know I wouldn't have kept up as good a pace had I been out there by myself. This section of the course was pretty rough in places but overall I found it better than I'd been expecting. Some very runnable sections but these were interspersed with plenty of hills. Indivually the climbs were not so bad but after a few hours of continuous ups and downs it became a bit head wrecking. Still, I am glad to have a better idea of what to expect in September. Crap it's like 4 weeks yesterday!!!
Hoping to run the first 5 miles from Gooseberry to Split Rock in the morning - my OCD nature making me want to complete the 100 mile course - albeit over the course of a few days, spaced out by a few years :)
However, I bashed up my knee pretty well on my third fall of the day so will have to see how that is. Went straight off a boardwalk about 3 miles from the finish. Totally asleep. Will need to be a bit more careful on the big day. But great news on the foot - didn't feel a thing! I am really surprised as I was expecting to deal with some pain at least. But it's exactly the same as it was this morning - hurts a little when I press hard at the base of my middle toe but that's about it. No bruising. No swelling. Happy out.
Still not sure what shoes I'll go with for the race. I wore the Asics (Gel Trail Attack) today and they felt good. I'd been planning to wear the Montrails (Continental Divide) for the race as I think they do have a bit more support/cushioning but maybe I will go with the Asics for the first half anyway and see how they feel.
Anyway, we made it back to Finland just after 3:30pm, 10 hours on the move, and had time to stretch before Angela & Rosie picked us up - which was a good thing as my PT has been giving me a hard time about never stretching! Got back to our luxurious cabin (decided we deserved a treat so we're staying at the Grand Superior Lodge - neat spot) and I sat in Lake Superior for a while. Only managed about 10 minutes this time around, and that was with a mug of coffee in each hand. I must have looked a strange sight! Felt good though, especially on my ankles as they took a bit of a beating today on the gnarly terrain. After a mega hot shower we sat down to a huge feast off the grill. Thanks Ang! And a few beers to wash it down. Nice evening relaxing with the girls - complete with a very competitive game of scrabble!
Hope the night runners had a good time up here. Just as we were approaching Two Harbors yesterday evening I drove past this car... ok so I was speeding a little and doing some zigzagging through traffic... next thing the car pulled back up alongside me - I thought they were going to give out to me but then I saw Steve waving out the window!!
Seriously need to catch up on sleep this week. But a busy work week and visitors from home is not exactly conducive to early nights... but I can't complain, at least not about the visitors.
end of post.
Friday, August 8, 2008
And I'm really looking forward to the run tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how my legs feel. I am tired today after the trip to Madison but my biggest complaint is lack of sleep. Apart from that my body feels pretty good. Though I did complain A LOT during the last 20 miles of the bike ride!! I need to change my saddle AGAIN - surely it isn't meant to hurt that much?? I was cursing every bump in the road from about mile 80 onwards...
Still, it was a great training day. I think Igor was a little surprised by the hills - though he will be well able for them in September. I had forgotten just how many there are, even before hitting the loop the road out to Verona is none too flat. And it was pretty windy yesterday. In fact it was probably very similar conditions to the race last year though maybe 5-10 degrees hotter. It got very sunny as the day wore on and of course I had missed a spot on my shoulder with the sunscreen and have a very attractive red line down my back.
Before the bike we swam for 30 mins in Lake Monona - it actually felt great, that is such a nice lake to swim in. Shoulder feels pretty good today - I am delighted the bike doesn't seem to bother them as much as last year. I'm sure being positioned better on my tri bike helps a ton. And then we ran 40 mins after we gone done with biking. Needless to say that felt great! Anything to be off the bike... oh, it's not that bad but I won't ever enjoy it as much as running :)
Missing the group run at Afton tomorrow morning but hopefully will get out to Hyland with the gang next week. And then planning on Matt's all nighter Friday night. Should be more successful than last Friday assuming no ill effects from tomorrow's run. I see Adam is planning same on the RTA Saturday night... might be an interesting schedule next weekend!
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Saw the PT this morning and was very happy to be told after a few minutes of ultrasound on the sole of my foot with zero pain I could be assured it was not a stress fracture. Sweet. My shoulder on the other hand seems to be worse this week and I haven't swam since last Wednesday. I guess the flights to and from DC didn't help. Dr. Pete suggested I avoid swimming for a few more days but I packed my wetsuit anyway... I know I am a terrible patient but I have to get in the water more often if I have any hope of maintaining my swim time in Arizona.
So the plan for tomorrow is ~30 min swim in Lake Monona, bike the IM course, and then ~30 min run. Having biked the course once in training last summer and then for the race I am responsible for not getting us lost. Well, I have a vague memory and a map so I guess we should be good... I'll be happy to get the century ride+ practice but don't feel the need to do any extra miles!
Was just reading Runner's World (yes, I still subscribe to the roadie mag) and enjoyed a piece on Vibram FiveFingers, must let Keith know. It was written by Peter Sagal, host of one of my fav shows on radio - NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Can't wait for the weekend - my sister and friend arrive Friday afternoon so I pick them up at MSP and head straight north. We are staying (in relative luxury) in one of the lakeside cabins at Grand Superior Lodge. I get to run ~40 miles on Saturday while they sight-see... not a bad deal. Meeting Wynn at 5am at Split Rock to run (/walk/crawl) to Finland. Looking forward to seeing more of the course. I am fascinated by what I've heard of the Beaver ponds.
Block party on my street tonight. It was fun - finally got to meet all my neighbors and I've only lived here 9 months! Nice folks. Way too much good food between that and the trip to DC. But it will be all worked off in Madison. Speaking of which, time to start packing... again.
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Monday, August 4, 2008
So I ran this evening. I know, I shouldn't have even packed my running shoes. I don't even know why I am sharing this other than to illustrate my pig-headedness (sp?). My rationale - I wanted to check out some new sights that I missed on my last visit and it was 90 degrees and therefore too hot to simply walk! Anyway, the good news is my foot felt pretty good. Not 100% but not really painful. I am now convinced it can't be a stress fracture. I wore heels all day (rationale: all my suits are too long for flats - and it's DC so I like have to wear a suit), except while running, and my foot felt fine. Again, not 100% but...
I will run again in the morning. Rationale: same as above except it will be cooler in the morning. I like to run in cool weather too. And it will be a test run. I'm a scientist at heart so it's all about experimentation, right?? I figure by Wednesday morning when I see the chiro & PT it will either be almost perfect or a complete mess. At least I'll know...
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Sunday, August 3, 2008
However, as I headed out to Afton Friday night I had a feeling I might be back home in bed by midnight. And I was! Still, it's Afton on a Friday night - worth the drive right? Zach Pierce and Greg Allen were there when I arrived a little before 8pm. Matt, Jim and Steve rolled in from their first loop + snowshoe loop a little later and we set off towards the meat grinder to 'continue' on the second loop. It all felt great for the first few miles but slowly the pain started in the ball of my foot, same spot as last weekend. I ran for a while longer to see if it would get worse. It didn't really but I knew there was no point in continuing since I was only doing harm. And when Steve tells you to rest it's a little worrying :)
Zach, whose stomach wasn't doing so good, and I headed back to the car park and were done by 10pm.
Oh well, at least I can bike with no pain. Short ride on Thursday, longer one Friday, 3hrs yesterday and 4 more today! All adding up to a very sore butt. Necessary build-up for Thursday - Igor decided he wanted to bike the Madison course before IM in September and knew there wouldn't be too many willing volunteers to take a vaction day to do it (everyone's weekends are too full). But he figured it was worth asking me. Needless to say I thought it was a great idea. Susan may join us also which would be cool as she knows the course very well. I might get us lost - I wasn't exactly taking in the sights during my 6h38m out there last year!
But first, I leave tonight for a work trip to DC. I might try to run Tuesday night when I get back. Assuming the foot still hurts I have a PT apt Wednesday morning and will get an MRI. I am praying it's not a stress fracture. I figure it would be more painful if it was. But what do I know I've never broken a bone. And I have a pretty high pain threshold :)
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