Friday, April 22, 2016

Pity Party, table for one

My life for the past few days has been exactly this, a pity party with exactly one person in attendance: me.  

That's actually not true.  My kids and husband have been a little miserable as well.  Picking up the slack for me apparently is no fun.  But I think they will agree that I have it the worst.  Being on crutches is pretty darn inconveniencing.  

Most of you know about my diagnosis and all that, but just in case, here it is... I have an incomplete stress fracture of the femoral neck. This is actually next to the ball of the join that connects your hip to your pelvis.  

The femoral neck is indicated with wavy lines.

My fracture is on the "compression side" (inner side)... apparently this is the better than having it on the outside, as that would mean instant surgery and pins in my hip. It's called an incomplete (or non-displaced) fracture because it's not fully broken (the crack doesn't go all the way through the bone)....but if I were to run before it heals, it is possible that it would displace and break fully.
The prognosis: My doctor said no weight bearing activities for up to 6 weeks, including walking... hence the crutches. She wants to see me in two weeks, to see if I can go to partial weight-bearing and maybe start swimming, depending on how things are healing. However, after playing Dr. Google, I am not too optimistic on any of this happening anytime soon. On the average, it seems that most people with this injury are on crutches for 8-10 weeks, and aren't able to return to even walk/run intervals for a couple of months after that. Many take even longer than this, again based on what I've read. The return is very pointed and slow. As I am not a patient person, this is going to truly test me. The past two days already have been difficult. I have been teaching from my wheelie-desk-chair, mostly staying by my Elmo and projector, but occasionally wheeling around the room as needed. I only use my crutches when I leave my classroom.

It's harder to remain non-weight-bearing at home, though. I am alone with the kids for 2+ hours before Joe arrives home from work, and they are used to eating dinner over an hour before he arrives. I also have to do many of the drop-offs for sports and activities. I'm grateful that Charlotte has become my right-hand-man, but there's only so much a 9-year-old can do. I have a feeling that the crock pot will become my best friend over the next several weeks.

I've been trying to wrap my head around the fact that not only am I not going to be racing this weekend, but I also am very likely out for the summer when it comes to triathlon season. I have 4 races scheduled--a super-sprint on 5/28, a mini on 6/4, an Olympic in mid-July, and of course the half-Ironman on 8/21. Oh and a 1-mile swimming race on 6/25. I am going to find out about deferring the triathlons, or getting partial refunds. I realize the need to take this return slowly and not rush things. I've decided that the Erie Marathon in September 2017 sounds awfully appealing right now... yes, that is 17 months from now. I don't plan on my return to running taking that long, but it leaves me plenty of time to recover and rebuild... and hopefully to figure out why this keeps happening to me. The plans include getting a bone density scan to see if I have any apparant weaknesses, as well as a complete blood work-up to look at different vitamin levels. Once I am healed, my friend Lynn says that I will need to learn how to just walk. After only 48 hours on crutches, a long walk sounds like an amazing thing. I will be grateful when it happens.

Monday, April 18, 2016

"You've gotta know when to hold 'em... know when to fold 'em..."

Everyone knows how the next two lines of the song that is the title of this blog go... 

"Know when to walk away... and know when to run..." (courtesy of Kenny Rogers)

And everyone who knows me knows by now that this isn't going to be a happy blog, I'm sure, just based on the title alone.  I wish I could write a happy blog, I really do.  I wish I could post about how awesome my run went this evening with Tamara.  I never run evenings, but I was tired and sore and didn't want to wake up early today.  I knew my hip felt better in the afternoon once I'd been moving around all day, and with Joey not having to go to soccer tonight due to HIS injury (bad inflammation of the tendons in his foot), I figured, why not run at 5:30 PM instead of 5:30 AM?

Rewinding just a bit, I ran on Saturday morning with my girls.  I decided to see how it would feel to run a bit faster.  The 6 miles I did with them ended up being at an 8:41 overall pace, with the fastest mile being 8:24 and the slowest 8:56.  I honestly didn't feel awful.  Right when we started, Allison or Megan or one of the girls behind me commented that I was limping a bit.  I definitely felt awkward in my gait, but it didn't hurt to run.  So I stuck with it and within 5 minutes I felt like my normal self again.  No pain, except for when we had to stop for crosswalks, and then starting back up again was definitely painful.   Only for about 25-50 yards, though.  I felt best when we were going faster.  Hmm, I thought to myself... maybe I'm okay.  Maybe I can still do this marathon!  I just won't stop!

I was fine... until we stopped running.  And the tightness set in.  And I could barely walk... for two days.  Limping around like Mrs. Gimpy McGimpster herself.  What the what???  I was able to chalk it up to Saturday's run though.  I clearly had no business pushing the pace on Saturday.  I attributed my muscle soreness to this.  It was bilateral, after all... and bilateral is a GOOD thing in the world of running!  Bilateral means it's happening on both sides of the body, which clearly means it's NOT an injury, right?!  

I woke up today and felt a lot better.  Barely a limp anymore.  Great, I said to myself, this is going to be fine!  But as I waited for Tamara to arrive to run this evening, I did my dynamic stretches and walked around the front yard to warm up... and I knew.  I just knew.  Lunges were slightly painful, when before they had not been.  Walking more than a few feet felt awkward.  My hips still felt... off.  I was adjusted at my chiropractor this afternoon, and he insisted things in my body were lining up fine.  But things didn't FEEL fine on either side of my body.  And, as soon as we started, my fears were verified.  Running hurt.  Not just achy... it really hurt.  Every single footstep was painful for me, radiating up into my pelvis on my injured side.  Tamara instantly noted that I was limping.  Unlike Saturday, though, I couldn't brush it off as just "getting back into my gait".  Because this hurt.   Let's just run to the end of the street, Tamara suggested.  Let's see how you feel.  But less than a quarter of a mile in, I came to a dead stop.  I couldn't even run to the end of the street.  I couldn't ignore the pain.  Let's walk to the end of the street then, she said.  But I couldn't even do that.  Instead, we turned around.  Slowly, ever so slowly, we walked back to my house.  Each step brought waves of discomfort that resonated up my leg.  I held it together... I didn't want my neighbors (who were all out enjoying the gorgeous spring evening) to see my tears.  I hugged Tamara goodbye and headed into the house.

The tears just trickled at first as I sat on the couch with ice on my groin.  They didn't turn into sobs for almost an hour, when my husband came downstairs from a day in bed (stomach flu).  I looked into his eyes as he took in the scene, and told him that I wasn't going to be running my marathon.  That's when the floodgates opened.  I think I scared my kids with the forcefulness of my sobs.  I wasn't just sad... I was angry.  So very angry.  It did help to let it all out (he made sure I did that in the solitude of our bedroom so as to not further worry our kids).  

A couple of my friends have suggested that I wait and see how I feel on Sunday morning.  The thought flickered through my mind, of course.   But as the lyrics of the song go... you really do have to know when to fold 'em.  And I'm folding.  I am not afraid of running a slow time this weekend.  I'm cool with a 5-hour marathon.  I am not afraid of DNF'ing if it hurts.  If I run 10 or 12 or 18 miles and have to stop because the pain gets overwhelming, well then I have to stop.  What scares me is the pain.  Of enduring that kind of overwhelming pain, with a gimpy limp-run, for 4+ hours.  I could barely endure it for 2 minutes today.  Maybe I'm not strong enough, but I've been able to push through a lot of pain in my life (years of competitive swimming, natural childbirth a few times), so I like to think that I'm a pretty good pain-pusher.  Still, part of me wonders if I could do it.  I'm not going to try, no worries... I've come to my decision and now I need to make peace with it.  

So... now what?  That's always the question for me.  No running, for sure.  I am going to try to get into my doctor, as I would really like an MRI to see if there's anything else going on besides a hip flexor strain.  Regardless, I'll be resting for a bit.  I have signed up for 2 mini triathlons, 1 Olympic triathlon, and 1 half-Ironman this summer.  Training can wait for now, though.  For now, it's time to just walk away.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The much-awaited-for update

Okay, I'm kidding... I know that no one is really waiting on pins and needles for me to update on how things are.  My close friends know how I'm doing because they've asked.  But I figured I might as well write a blog, seeing as I have so much free time.

Because, you see, I haven't been running.  Shocker (at least to some people!), I am actually listening to advice and resting right now.  I didn't run for six straight days, which really did feel like an eternity.  I actually had to unfollow all of the running pages on Facebook so that I didn't get upset every time I logged on and saw posts about running.  Meanwhile, I did my exercises and stretches... and that was it.  Oh, one day I did do some light-weight arm strength work (biceps, triceps), but I did them seated so as not to tax my legs in any way possible.  I wanted to bike... I wanted to swim... but my doctor recommended just doing nothing.  

Yep, I've been resting.  But I finally went for a run on Wednesday morning with a few of my favorite training partners who were willing to go whatever pace I needed (Tamara and Allison S.).  The run was... just okay.  Nights and early mornings are actually worst for me.  The less I move, the more my injury bothers me.  So things like sitting for extended periods of time (more than 5-10 minutes)... oh, and SLEEPING... yeah, those aren't good.  Hence, when I first wake up in the morning, I'm very tight and even walking is uncomfortable until I've been up and moving for a bit.  I feel best in the mid-afternoon, as I don't sit at all from around 12:30-2:30 PM (when I teach for two straight periods).

Back to the run, though.  The first two miles felt like I hadn't ran in, well, in a week.  Cinder blocks on my feet.  Calves tight.  Plodding at best.  I started feeling a little more like myself in mile 3.  My hip wasn't painful... it was there, maybe slightly achy, but not awful.  By the fourth mile, I had finally settled into my normal gait, thank goodness, and that mile flew by (unlike the first 3).  I definitely could have ran more, but our loop ended, and I had to decide if I wanted to run more or go home and stretch and foam roll before work.  Stretching and foam rolling won (see how SMART I am?).  The fact that I felt better after mile 4 than I did after the first couple of miles, coupled with the fact that I feel best when I've been up and moving during the day, allows me to hold out hope that this marathon may actually happen.   

I was more concerned with how I'd feel after the run, though.  Honestly, though, my groin didn't hurt as much as my super-tight quads did.  I tried foam rolling them out, but for the next 24 hours they were causing me to walk funny, they were so tight.  On Thursday afternoon I finally got to see my awesome chiropractor again, and he did his magic.  A super-duper painful hip adjustment and some awful manipulations, plus Graston on my poor quads.  But when I got off that table, I felt like a million dollars.  Dr. A knows his stuff!

Dr. A used that huge one on my quads!
I felt like a million dollars until I got home and half-tripped over the little wooden border on the floor that separates the kitchen from the play room.  I didn't fall, but catching myself really pulled on that hip flexor.  OUCH, like big time.  I did this again at school two more times on Friday (Caylan's binder during 5th period, and an empty box in the office after school).  Each time, I could feel my hip flexor straining and each time, it hurt reallllllly badly, and it took a couple of hours for it to feel okay again.  I need to pick up my feet or something!  I told my friends that I need a plastic bubble to live in for the next week.

My bubble!
So... where does that leave me now?  My friends and coach keep saying, "Just think of this as a super-awesome taper."  Easier said than done, though. I am all too familiar with over-tapering (from swimming), so the idea that I could be resting TOO much is definitely at the forefront of my mind.  I have a "long" run scheduled for tomorrow... 5-6 miles.  It is the last long run of the training cycle.  I am going to try my best to be grateful for each step.  I miss my training partners so much, so I will be happy to be with them again.  This is what we've been dreaming about, our taper when we would be able to say, "ONLY  10 miles today!"--that's how far they are running tomorrow; I'm obviously not going that far.  So I will stay within the run, and try not to think about what I will be doing in just 8 more days.  I will also try to not overanalyze how my body is feeling.  My race strategy will undoubtedly be a race-day decision, and I'm okay with that.  There won't be any A/B/C goals from me.  This time, the goal is to finish the race, hopefully with a smile on my face.  I can't ask much more from my body than that.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Déjà vu (subtitled: Internal temper tantrums)

Déjà vu, (Listeni/ˌdʒɑː ˈv/French pronunciation: ​[de.ʒa.vy]) from French, literally "already seen", is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past

I can't think of a better way of describing my life right now other than the words and definition above.  Every day this past week on my Facebook "On this Day" post and in my Timehop app, I have seen reminders of what I was going through a year ago today.  For my newer followers, on March 31, 2014, during a tempo run I suffered what I know now was a severe calf muscle tear with a simultaneous stress reaction/fracture just under four weeks before my marathon was to be ran.  I spent 10 days getting different doctors' opinions, going to physical therapy several times and running on an anti-gravity treadmill, getting crazy things like "dry needling" done to my leg... all for naught.  I realized on April 9, 2014 (yes, one year ago today) that I was not going to be able to run the Glass City marathon at an 8:20/mile pace and get my Boston Qualifying time.  I finally gave in, and just let my body rest.  I didn't run for 49 very long days.  

Definitely how I felt during my 7 weeks off from running...

Fast forward to the present.  Just one week ago today, I ran my second 20-miler and was only 3 weeks away from finally running in my third marathon.  I didn't have any pain at all during that run... I think I remember my groin area was feeling a bit tight once we stopped, but that's it.  I came home, and realized that my groin was actually hurting when I got out of the car.  I had trouble lifting up my leg to get out.  I stretched quite a bit after I got inside, put on my CWX compression tights, and iced throughout the day.  I grew more and more nervous as the day went on, as I realized that I couldn't really lift up my leg when I was seated or laying down.  Flexing my hip HURT.  I figured maybe I pulled my groin or something.  I've never had pain in that area before.  I had a lot of trouble sleeping on Saturday night, as rolling over was very painful (like a 7 or an 8 on a scale of 1-10), but I was still pretty surprised on Sunday morning that the discomfort hadn't alleviated at all.  I iced more, stretched more, went to a yoga for runners class, and tried to be positive.  That night I took an Epsom salt bath, which did nothing to help.  

When I woke up on Monday morning, I actually felt pretty good, overall.  My friend Allison said if I wanted to wait one more day before I ran, she'd run with me Tuesday, but I knew that I couldn't run on Tuesday because I have Hunter.  I decided to go ahead and run.  I planned on 5 miles but our loop ended up being a bit short, so we stopped at 4.2.  The run itself didnt feel awful.  In fact, my hip/groin area really didn't hurt at all... til we stopped.  I felt it immediately upon getting into my car, when I had to lift up my leg.  I didn't know what to think at this point.  I had a rough day on Monday at work; getting up after sitting for more than 10 seconds was very painful, and I would limp for the first 3-4 steps that I took.  On Tuesday I decided to call my sports med doctor, as I was concerned about running again the next day.  The pain was definitely less than it was on Monday, but I barely slept at all on Monday evening and I hoped I'd be given a strong pain reliever, at least to help me sleep or something.

Unfortunately, my normal doctor wasn't in till Thursday, so I took the first available appointment that day, which was with my former doctor, Dr. Bright.  I don't have a super-great opinion of him, but he is a doctor and I knew that he would at least be able to tell me whether or not I had a stress fracture.  His opinion was that it was a hip flexor strain. I was pretty sure he'd say this, as typically with runners who have hip pain, the hip flexor is the culprit.  However, most of my research online had me convinced that this wasn't a hip flexor issue.  Even though I didn't agree with him, I decided to go ahead and rest one more day, and I was glad that I did, as things felt better as time went on.  I saw my chiropractor on Wednesday afternoon, and he agreed that it was a psoas muscle problem (the psoas is one of the hip flexor muscles).   

This is the psoas muscle (and exactly where my issue seems to be)

He did a rather painful adjustment, but afterwards I felt pretty good, and I felt fine during my dynamic stretching pre-run on Thursday morning. I met up with Tamara for an easy 4 miles to test things out.  I felt okay for the first mile, but as the run went on, I felt a dull ache deep in my hip.  It radiated down my inner thigh.  This was new... the first time that I actually felt my injury during a run.  I tried hard to stay chatty with Tamara to keep my mind off of the run, but all the while a voice resonated in my head... "You're running an easy 4 miler... this feels crappy... how on earth can you run a marathon in a few weeks like this???"  Stupid voice.  After Tamara dropped me off at my car so she could do a couple more miles, I started to sob.  Why me?  WHY ME?  

This is where the "internal temper tantrums" started.  I came up with this term, and it totally fits what I have been going through mentally over the past few days.  I've been smart.  I did it right this time.  I ran slower.  I followed a plan.  I took a yoga class. I did my physical therapy exercises 2-3 times every week.  I cross-trained a couple of times a week, but never too hard of an effort.  I took extra rest days when I felt tired.  So, again I ask, why me?  Why am I the one who continues to get injured?  

I sit here and see friends who run much more than I do. Friends who run fast (for them) almost every single run.  Friends who don't cross-train.  Friends who run instead of rest, just to get in more miles with their friends.  And them? They are fine.  They continue to run and train and do whatever they want.  In my head, I am screaming and kicking and just so mad at the world!!!  I feel like a 3 year old... or a 13 year old (not much difference lol!)... having a temper tantrum.  It's not appropriate for an adult to do these things, so I must keep my tantrums internal.  It doesn't make them any easier to deal with, though.

Back to what's going on, though... I had the same deep pain every time I tried to get up from a seated position all day on Thursday after my run.  On Thursday night my friend Lynn evaluated me at Fleet Feet.  She's a physical therapist, and her opinion was that I actually have a movement disorder called femoral anterior glide syndrome.  In layman's terms, this is when the ball of the hip joint isn't moving correctly, and puts pressure on the tissues at the front of the hip.  Everything I read about this syndrome sounded accurate. Lynn gave me four exercises to do 3-4 times a day to help correct the movement issue.  

I decided to go ahead and call my doctor on Friday, since Dr. Bright said to do so if anything changed.  Since it actually had ached during the run on Thursday, I thought it warranted a visit to Dr. Dimitris, as I still wasn't sure that I didn't have a stress fracture.  A couple of friends who have had hip stress fractures had similar symptoms to mine, and this scared me.  I saw Dr. Dimitris on Friday afternoon, and she said that she agreed with Dr. Bright and my chiropractor, that it was a hip flexor strain.  So at this point, I had conflicting opinions to deal with... three doctors who felt that I was dealing with a hip flexor strain, and a very good PT who felt that it wasn't exactly that.  Fortunately, all four of them recommended the exact same thing, which was rest.  Lynn and Dr. Dimitris both suggested 6-7 days off, and so that is my current plan.  I skipped today's long run (14 miles planned), and I won't run on Monday either.  I hope to be able to run on Wednesday.  Right now I am definitely feeling better, as far as my hip goes.  I am doing the exercises/stretches that Lynn prescribed, and doing my best to just rest.  Dr. Dimitris said no swimming or biking, so I'm feeling pretty crappy as I really can't do anything at all.  If resting works, though, I'll do it.  I'll do anything to make it to the starting line this time.  I'm okay with throwing a BQ attempt out the window, but I won't make that decision until the day of the race.  

The start of Glass City in 2012

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Training recap (3/28-4/3)

Week 17 (hold on body, just hold on!):

Monday--Even though it is my spring break, I could simply not pass up the chance to meet up with a few of my MIT buddies for a 6@5 run.  There were a couple last minute cancellations, but most of us made it, and the easy miles were perfect for my body today.  Overall pace: 10:08.

Tuesday--With being off from work, I decided to do my strength workout today rather than Monday night as I usually do.  I was able to get in a nice hour-long workout after breakfast: 20 minutes of glute strengthening exercises, 25 minutes of core/arms/leg strength, and 15 minutes of yoga stretches.  My body felt so much better after doing this!  I was feeling tired and sluggish, but all of the stretching really helped to "wake me up".

Wednesday--4:30 AM was the start time for our 9 miles today, as I couldn't fathom doing this one alone and my training partners don't get a spring break.  We did 2 miles of warm-up, then 6 x 4 minutes of tempo intervals (7:40-8:00 pace) with 1 minute of jogging between each, and ended with a 3 mile cool down.  For some reason this workout felt harder than the other tempo ones have felt.  Allison L. and I struggled getting settled in our paces; we'd look at our watches and see 7:50, and then we would be at 7:20!  But we did hit the overall intervall paces.  Our six intervals were: 7:43, 7:40, 7:34, 7:45, 7:29 (downhill), 7:34.  Overall pace: 8:39.

Thursday--We left for a short family vacation to Indianapolis on Wednesday morning, so this run took place on the hotel treadmill.  I wasn't too thrilled with the prospect of 5 sweaty miles, and it was just about as bad as I figured it'd be.   I was bored (no friends to chat with, and I left my iPod shuffle in the car) and hot (small room, no ventiliation, and I left my water bottle in the car).  I couldn't wait for it to be OVER.  Heavy legs for the first mile or so, but felt fine after that.  Overall pace: 9:24.

Friday--"rest" day... not really a lot of resting!  We went to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis on Thursday, and to the Indianapolis Zoo on Friday.  Lots of walking!!!

Saturday--We arrived home at dinner time on Friday, so fortunately our little trip didn't interfere with my long run plans.  Allison needed to be finished by 9:00 so this run had to start at 5:30... ugh.  No one loves that!  Fortunately we had a great crew running today: me, Allison, Jess, Megan M., Megan B-F., Jenny V-S., and my old high school friend Craig (who I haven't seen in almost 20 years and who is training for something like his 6th 100-miler!).  I mapped out two big loops (12 and 8 miles) starting from the rec center so as to avoid the countless out-and-backs that we usually do on the Genoa Trail.  I even planted water bottles along the route for us!  Unforunately, my plan backfired on us as Allison had some really awful GI issues at around mile 6.  Luckily we were not far from my house and I was able to detour us to a construction site where I knew there would be porta-potties for her.  

I myself did have one bout with GI distress, and the porta-potty at around 11.5 was a definitely godsend. I actually felt great the rest of the run as far as my stomach went, thankfully.  I figure that if it happens during the marathon, I will need to just get in and out of the porta-potty as fast as I can.

No marathon-pace miles this week, but we did do several short pick-ups through the run.  Our splits were:
9:13, 9:07, 9:08, 9:05, 9:13 
9:11, 9:13, 9:16, 9:07, 9:14 
9:05, 9:03, 9:13, 9:03, 9:10 
8:56, 8:55, 9:00, 9:30, 9:14

So, overally, pretty darn consistent!  I was so excited at mile 18 to meet up with Allison S. and Sharon--totally on accident, but it was fun to finish together!  Overall pace for this run: 9:09.  My body feels like... well, like it just ran 20 miles.  Right now my biggest concern is my hip flexor (at least, that is what I think it is... I've never had any hip flexor issues before, so I'm guessing based on the area of the pain).  I think I tweaked it a week ago, and I've felt it a  little bit all week (mostly after each run, but nothing more than a 1 or so on a scale of 1-10). After this run, however, it's been bad.  Certain things hurt worse than others... lifting up my bent leg when I'm in a seating position, for example, causes an 8 or a 9 in pain.  Walking isn't really painful, though. I am hoping that it's just a minor thing and that starting taper will help.  I see my chiropractor on Wednesday and I know he'll have some ideas as well.

Sunday--Stuck to yoga today for my cross training. I was hoping it would help to stretch out my hip flexors.  Sadly, it doesn't really feel any better today. I will decide tomorrow morning if a run is in the cards.  I will not run if it hurts... so I may be taking a few days off.  Praying this is minor!!!