First it was Ebola, back in September 2014 threatening to scupper our trip out to Morocco. I thought the spread of the disease would surely stop any travel in and out of West Africa. However it has remained relatively confined to the three main countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, the closest of which is over 1500 miles away from Morocco, similar in distance between London and Moscow. Food for thought.
The second hurdle was plantar fasciitis in my right foot, slowly worsening in November, and by Christmas it was so painful every morning upon waking I couldn’t stand on it. The pain would ease a little during the day but then if I tried to go for a walk on it, it would rapidly get worse again. A combination approach to treating it – stretching, massage, rolling it over a frozen bottle, cold spray, cold gel, a brutal chiropractor, and insoles in my shoes and several weeks later it is manageable, can happily tolerate long distances, and is much, much better than either me or my chiropractor anticipated it would be. Happy days.
But that brings us to the third and final hurdle I am facing now, with just over three weeks to go until departure. Just as I thought the ever increasing number of blisters on my feet and my inability to break my desert boots in were my biggest problems, I was proved wrong. It seems the plantar fasciitis, the long distances, hard training, and uncomfortable desert boots have worked together to seemingly cause a stress fracture in my second metatarsal. Also known as a march fracture, due to it being commonly seen in marching soldiers. The muscle transfers some of the strain over to the bone, which then makes it’s own protest in the form of refusing to bear any more weight. At all. ‘Get off me!’ it shouts. Okay then.
The xray didn’t show anything up, but that is quite typical for this kind of injury. The pain on weight-bearing was enough to convince me that I needed to slow down, and then the look on my chiropractor’s face and his frustration at the thought of all the work we’ve done between us on my back, hips and feet ending with a fracture… Well, I shed a few tears, I will admit. The thought of not being able to complete the trek now, after all the planning, training, card-making, fund-raising, psychological preparation, and build up, was almost too much to even consider. I wanted to shut down and hide. Old habits die very hard.
I probably spent about 24 hours in a bit of a state. I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot and I was so annoyed at myself for having pushed so hard and ending up like this. I couldn’t contemplate letting everyone down. Luckily for me, all my psychological therapy is paying off. I managed to get it into perspective. On a scale of dreadful events, this doesn’t even feature. Taking stock, I thought ‘it ain’t over till the fat lady sings’ and ‘the only way I’m not doing this trek is if I’m in a wooden box’. The real me kicked back in.
So plan in place: no training, foot up, no negative thinking, wait, rest and recuperate. Next week is half term so I wasn’t going to be able to do as much training anyway. My foot is already feeling better now I’ve been off it for 3 days. Although still worried about the impact of the trek on an injured foot, I’m very confident I will be in the desert this time in 4 weeks. Just coming to the end of our 100k. Shattered and in pain? Definitely. Blistered up like bubble wrap? Absolutely. Exhilarated and proud of myself? Better had be.