An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: A week to forget!

Shot from the Whistler valley - friends just hanging out! Picture by Mike Crane
Shot from the Whistler valley - friends just hanging out! Picture by Mike Crane

So a quiet week in town until the weekend and the thousands spilling in to take advantage of the huge ‘Turkey’ sales laid on. A great time to pick up a bargain – both new and old as everyone is looking for something for the forthcoming winter either for themselves or their kids, or both.

So being such a busy shopping weekend in town combined with the much celebrated ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner, we decided to get out of town for a few days to the capital of British Columbia on Vancouver Island. Firstly because there is a much vaulted half marathon that I wanted to race and in and being in top form, was looking forward to setting a new record and secondly because I’d never been there. Just a small matter of a couple of hours drive south, followed by a further hour and a half on a ferry and a further two hour drive at the other end….oh, and in hissing rain as well!! Good job it wasn’t coming down hard enough for multiple incidents of aquaplaning or anything!!!!

So, thoroughly looking forward to this little ‘escape’ from our place in paradise, I’d also ran and trained myself into the best shape of my life this summer and was desperately looking forward to this race and the subsequent New York marathon just four weeks later. I’d trained harder than ever and managed to get my last long, hard, tempo run in on the Sunday previous. I wasn’t going to taper down too much to recover and peak for this race as I had my eye firmly on the upcoming longer marathon. So, you can imagine my concern when on the very next day, Monday, I headed out for an easy few miles and suddenly noticed this pain on the outside of my foot. I tried to blame it on the shoes, the trail, but even after switching up shoes and terrain, the pain was still there – needless to say I pushed on anyway.

I tried again two days later, fully rested after a day off of course, but damn that pain was still there. I finally went to my physio who convinced me it was just tight muscle and tendon due to the hard training I’d been putting in…I had doubts though. Next morning, thought about a run, foot thought otherwise. I took myself off to the emergency unit to get an X-ray. Typically this proved inconclusive, but all agreed that it had all the hallmarks of a stress fracture! However, this couldn’t be confirmed until I’d had a nuclear bone scan. This of course, had to be all the way down in Vancouver and wouldn’t be until the following week. What to do? No-one could confirm if it was a bone injury or muscular. Could I run the half marathon after all?? If it was just muscular or a tendon, surely I could ‘suck it up’ and deal with it! It didn’t take much to convince me I could somehow run, until I tried to run the night before the race. Nope, not happening. There was no way this darn foot was never going to let me push it at full tilt through 13.1 miles.

So that was it. My wife and colleague from work (and a few others I knew from around Whistler) were going to run in this idyllic race, but not me. Sounds a little dramatic to try to explain, but I was devastated. I’d put so much into being here for this and now it was being snatched away from me at the last! Would I be OK for the New York marathon in 4 weeks – seemed doubtful at this point?

Having finally got my mind around the fact I wasn’t going to race, I managed to follow and cheer everyone else along. Some great results from all involved, especially the good wife and work colleague – even if one of them (they know who they are…Daryl!) nearly threw up a few times along the way….and what a beautiful day for it!

Now, I didn’t get to see as much of the capital as I’d like to have, especially as all the team wanted to do after their efforts was to relax, change and tuck into a hearty turkey dinner. Typical Brits, all they want is a good excuse to have a cooked roast dinner – no matter where they are!

Having sufficiently stuffed our faces, taken in the sights of a few local bars and let those who could still party like the kids we used to be, hang out until the wee hours of the morning, we returned to the buxom of our mountain town and the sight of the ever approaching snowline. Here, I could relax for several hours before returning once more to the hustle of Vancouver city to get this darn bone scan done once and for all, where no technologist is allowed to give their opinion, not even their considered thoughts in their own experience, or any other way I could put it to them. Some might call this referral from one place to the next the height of bureaucracy!

Where did all this get me? Well I’ve now finally had it confirmed that I have a stress fracture of my cuboid bone – something I could have told them from even what I could understand watching the screens whilst having my scans (perhaps I should have been a doctor after all?). Waiting to see a specialist now (of course!!), but in the meantime I’m confined to the shackles of an ugly plastic ‘air-boot’ and am non-weight bearing on crutches for the next few weeks. Guess New York is off the calendar again then as well?!