Toeing the Start Line

I’m in Chicago to participate in an ABA panel and was thinking of all the great stories I’ll have for my blog when I remembered I haven’t updated on what’s been going on running wise!

A few months ago I registered for the Huntsville Half Marathon since I’m scheduled to be in town visiting my family around then. I’m looking forward to this one a lot because it checks off a lot of firsts for me. First time running a half in my hometown, first time with my family at one of my races, and first time running a half with my coworkers! It also works out well because the trip will be an early family Thanksgiving which means a few hours after the race I can load up on turkey and my mom’s sweet potato casserole. Is there any better way to refuel than your mom’s home cooking? I think not.

I started up with my usual training plan.  I always use Hal Higdon’s plan, either Novice 1 or Novice 2. Sometimes alternating between both depending on if I feel like stepping it up or taking it easy. I’m on Novice 2 this time. I like it because it’s super simple. Run x amount on x day. Rest sometimes. Do something other than running sometimes. And best of all, day 1 of the training plan is a rest day.


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After I started this it began to look like we might bump up my family visit to Huntsville. No problem- I figured I’d just plan on doing the Pelham Half Marathon again if I couldn’t make the Huntsville Half. Either way I’d continue training for a half in November.

I was only a week in when I felt some pain in the ankle I hurt last year. I knew it was the hills in the neighborhood again. To run hills you need to have solid core and hip strength and good balance. I have none of those things, which became readily apparent during my stint in physical therapy last year.

Game on ankle. I started doing the exercises the physical therapists taught me.  I also bought an ankle brace a coworker recommended to wear when I run hills. This ankle brace is not kidding around. It comes with a five step set of instructions on how to use and pictures.


Around the time my ankle brace arrived in the mail I injured myself badly enough that I was sidelined from running for over a week. Keep in mind- I ran my first half a day after my doctor told me he thought I’d fractured a rib (x-ray later showed no fracture) and a marathon a month after my podiatrist said I didn’t have a stress fracture in my tibia yet but I was on my way to one. I should clarify the first injury was when I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going, tripped, rolled down a hill, and smacked my chest on a curb. That wasn’t running related. That was also a week after my husband had just seen the same doctor for tripping and hitting his head on a sidewalk. Yes, doctor- I also tripped and fell. We’re made for each other. Anyway, in both instances I got the okay to run. So what could have happened that was enough for a doctor to finally say no running? I stubbed my toe. A stubbed toe was what finally took me out.

I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going (again) and walked into the base of a cat scratching post on a Friday morning. I felt my toe bend in a direction a toe should never go. After the initial fireworks of pain it felt reasonably okay. So I decided to try walking my three miles instead of running. It was verrry slow going but mostly uncomfortable, not painful. When I took my sneaker off this is what I saw.


That did not look good to me so I tried moving the toe and noticed I couldn’t bend the top joint anymore. It looked a lot worse than it felt, but between how it was looking and not being able to bend the joint I scrapped my weekend running plans and booked an appointment with my podiatrist for Monday to make sure I could still run.

Long story short, the X-ray and examination indicates a very small break. He said he doesn’t like to use the term hairline fracture because a broken bone is a broken bone, but this is what I seem to have. He said it would take 8 weeks to fully heal and I’d need to tape it to the next toe over for a while and come back for a recheck in 2-3 weeks to make sure it was healing alright.

I heard 8 weeks to heal and thought oh crap. I asked if I could run my half in November and he said yes! He said I only needed to take a week, minimum, off of running and I could give it a go after that. If it hurt at all that was my cue to take one more week off.  I was very relieved to hear this since I know others with broken toes that had to wear a boot for 8 weeks and running was not in the cards for them. But you know me; I didn’t want to completely stop training. So I asked if I could walk to get my miles in until then and he said yes! I’d just need to wear closed toe shoes and tape the toe.

So I walked. And walked. And walked. I was so slow. But I was ready to go at this half marathon like a spider monkey after the possible rescheduling, injured ankle, and broken toe. A very slow spider monkey mind you, but a November half marathon was happening.

When I attempted running a week later my toe held up. I ran like a fragile china teacup because I didn’t know how things would go, but I was pain free. Uncomfortable, but no pain.

I do think that having cut the tops off my insoles may have helped. I cut them to avoid bruised nails when my feet swell in races and it turns out having more room for a broken toe to go is another benefit to cutting them.


Three weeks in and the bruising is gone and swelling is mostly down. But my toe now goes in a direction it didn’t used to go.

For comparison, the foot without the broken toe is on the left. The one with the broken toe is on the right. It’s the one right next to the little toe. Go home toe, you’re drunk and falling against your neighbor.



I know what you’re thinking by the way. Michelle- you take all these photos of your feet? You betcha. Some people’s phones are full of photos of their kids. My phone’s gallery is full of pictures of my feet and my cats. Who wouldn’t want to document all their gnarly injuries? And who doesn’t appreciate a cute cat picture?

Here. So cute.


So training for my fall half marathon is back on track though I won’t be setting any PRs this time.

I did face a new challenge preparing for my ABA licensing panel here though.

I work from home- which means flip flops, sneakers, or bare feet. All great for the toe.

I went ahead and assumed none of these options would fly here. And my dress shoes are uncomfortable even on a good day. The only thing I thought might work were open toed sandals and I didn’t see any without a heel which was no good since it put pressure on the toe. In the end I wound up shoe horning the broken toe into my flat dress shoes. It wasn’t pleasant guys. I’m glad I didn’t have to walk much. But- I learned a neat little trick to share with the ladies! I decided to make those dress shoes as comfortable as I possibly could.  Those particular flats usually rub blisters on my heel and rub the tops of my toes raw. This doesn’t happen to guys because you get to wear socks. We’re stuck in pantyhose with nothing to prevent blisters.  Until now.

I bought this! It was $5.19 at the drugstore. It says to stick the padding on your foot but instead I stuck it inside my shoes where they usually give me blisters. Ahhh. Relief. Blister free even after spending all day on my feet today in those shoes.


So that is what’s been going on running wise lately! I plan to start looking where I am going from now on and as of today the Huntsville Half Marathon is still on the schedule.



  1. Well glad to hear it’s doing better and you had a pain free day. I love to hear all about your drama just for the love of running. You go girl!! LOVE YOU

    1. Love you too :). About to grab a taxi for a 6 am flight to Huntsville on this lovely Sunday morning. The words “6 am” “flight” and “Sunday” don’t belong in the same sentence.

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