[comment: I know that stuff like infected blisters are TMI for some people. But I learned some good lessons from this, and so I'm sharing, so others know to take these symptoms very seriously.]
The story in brief is that I had a blister on my right big toe that got a bit inflamed after my track workout on Tuesday morning. I didn’t worry about it too much – I get blisters all the time (I have baby skin, and you just have to look at me to chafe or blister me), and I just run through them. If they rip, then I clean them really carefully with rubbing alcohol.
On Wednesday, I was feeling fatigued and dull, but I thought it was just recovery from Tuesday’s hard workout (which was pretty hard, being our first interval workout in 6 weeks). My toe hurt some during the run, and more and more as the day went on. The toe also started to swell, and the inside of my right foot got red. I also noted that my right inner thigh had some very distinct sore spots – I decided these were probably muscle knots, and made a note to get back in for another sports massage.
That evening, I noted a pale red streak on the top of my right foot, and the toe started to REALLY hurt. And my calf was cramping a bit. So I called my dad (a doctor) and asked if this was something I should call my primary care doctor about tomorrow, or wait a few days. He told me (pretty strongly) to page her. So, I did, VERY apologetically.
“Hey I've got a blister on my foot and I really don't think it's anything, but I promised my father I'd page you. If you want, you can call me tonight, but I really don't want to bug you so tomorrow is fine.”
She called me back 2 minutes later. After I described my foot (picture below), she prescribed an antibiotic, and ordered me to get to the 24 hour pharmacy ASAP (i.e. do NOT wait until morning). So I did, and started them.
By my appointment with her Thursday morning, the foot was MUCH better. Nearly pain free. In a nutshell, it was a cellulitis infection. Apparently, you can get infected blisters even if the skin doesn’t break (it didn’t here), especially if you have a) a circulatory disorder (as I do) and b) even a mild case of athletes foot (*cough*). The red streak on the top of my foot was the bacteria moving upstream, and the "muscle knots" in my thigh were inflamed lymph nodes.
So, I got off pretty darn easy, with 10 days of antibiotics, follow-up appointments, and instructions not to do any workout requiring a closed toe shoe until the blister had settled down. The last point meant that I got to skip out on a Friday morning workout in ridiculously hot and humid conditions in favor of the pool – definitely not the worst thing in the world.
I do note, though that I would have been in big trouble had I waited until morning to bug my doctor – these infections apparently spread VERY rapidly, with potentially severe consequences. And, I might have been able to tempo on Friday if I had given her a call on Wednesday morning, instead of procrastinating until Wednesday night.
So, big lessons are: a) take any indication of infection in a blister very seriously, even if you are sure you’re just being a princess; b) even mild cases of athlete’s foot can end up causing big issues; c) pale red streaking on your skin traveling away from an infected cut or blister is a VERY bad sign, and merits either paging your doctor or going to the ER within the hour.
Duly noted. Moving on. Pre-toe infection and antibiotics, I was having a decent week, but the second half of the week has been a bit tougher. I don't think it's any indication of a true performance loss; it's just that my body's still a bit off from either the infection or the antibiotics. My 16 miler on Sunday ended up being a bit of a struggle, and I made myself finish it when I should have shut it down. As my coach noted, I'm not doing myself any favors when I make myself complete a workout at all costs.
I've got a few more days of the antibiotics to go -- I'm just going to try to keep my runs and workouts on the less intense side until I have everything out of my system. I've made too much progress to get greedy and screw stuff up now.
Monday: 1000m of swimming breathing drills and 40 minutes of easy pool-running for “4 miles,” and then some injury prevention work . Stretching and foam-rolling at night.
Tuesday: In the morning, 10 miles on the track. Prescribed workout was 2-3x1200, 800, 400 – half-distance recoveries between intervals; 400m recovery plus “hydrate fully” between sets (still pretty humid – temp of 74, dewpoint of 73). I ran 4:48, 3:03, 84; then 4:40, 2:55 (oops), 81; then 4:35, 2:58, 80. I was pretty happy with this one, with the exception of running the second 800m a bit too fast.
Followed with some injury prevention exercises and then a shakeout 20 minutes easy pool-running, for “2 miles”. Upper body strength-training and foam rolling at night.
Wednesday: 12 miles easy outside (8:41 pace) –shuffle warm-up (10:00 pace) before meeting up with Jessica for 11 easy (8:41 pace for overall run), followed by some running form drills. Followed with 1000m of swimming breathing drills. Pilates class in the afternoon, plus foam rolling
Thursday: In the morning, 50 minutes of easy pool-running for “5 miles” plus upper body strengthtraining. Yoga class at night.
Friday: In the morning, a tempo workout in the pool totaling “10 miles” – including a tempo workout of 22 minutes at tempo effort for “3 miles”, followed by 15 minutes for “2 miles” and 8 minutes for “1 mile” – 1 minute recovery between each (trying to replicate my coach’s “3, 2, 1” tempo workout that we do outside). Followed with 1000m of swimming breathing drills, half with pull buoy, half without. Stretching and foam-rolling at night.
Saturday: In the morning, 8.5 miles outside averaging 8:00 pace, followed with a shakeout 20 minutes of pool-running (“2 miles”). In the afternoon, light upper body strength training plus foam-rolling, injury prevention exercises, and stretching.
Sunday: In the morning, a long run of 16.5 miles out and back, complete with 4 water breaks (and two Margarita shot bloks). The average pace for the run was 8:06. The first 7 miles were at 8:30 pace, followed by 5 miles at 7:52 pace and 3 miles at 7:25 pace. Then I was totally done, and finished the run with a cool-down jog at 8:30 pace. Not my greatest long run by far – as my coach noted, I should have just called it at 14, so as not to risk injury.
I followed this up with some injury prevention exercises, and then 20 minutes very easy pool-running for “2 miles” to shake things out.