Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In which the marathon slips out of reach...

I have not a single regret about doing Ragnar.  It was a great experience, I made some great new friends, and proved to myself that I could push myself and get it done.  I also proved that my hip wasn't in very good shape. 

I took that Monday night off from the group run, and went to core class on Tuesday.  I have never been so inept at doing basic movements, like sitting up.  Honestly, I was in so much pain I nearly cried several times while trying to just get into a sitting position from lying on my back.  Even modifying the exercises didn't work, and I left feeling deflated, to put it kindly.  The next night, I couldn't get myself through a lap around the track at the track workout, and sat on the side for the entire workout.  I knew something had to be done, my hip was probably out of place and I needed it fixed.  So I called and got myself and appointment with the PT for the 20th.  With two numb toes, a swollen right foot, and regional pain on my right side, something was really not right.

I admitted to all the miles I'd put in over the previous three weeks.  There was no reason to hide it, and I knew this was the reason for my pain.  When the therapist asked me to bend at the waist, as if to touch my toes, I was barely even hunched before he said, "Wow, that's really out of place".  He adjusted me and got things back in place, and when he did, my hip gave a nice loud pop, and I felt the slip of the tendons over the front of my hip.  An adjustment hasn't felt that good in ages.  It's also never been that loud.  He explained to me that my pelvis had gone so far out of place that it was causing a pinch in my L1/L2 area of my lower back, and this was what was causing the pain and other symptoms.  Quite simply, I increased my miles so quickly and so drastically that the stabilzer muscles in the hip could not keep up, and they gave out, allowing the pelvis to slip out of position.  I'd done quite a number on myself.

With the hip straightened out, he said that the pop my hip gave, which was quite emphatic and loud, could be the result of a tear somewhere in the hip area, possibly a labral tear.  Rather than jump right to that conclusion, though, he advised not running for several days at least, then starting back up very slowly.  What I think I can do - do half.  Do the stretching and strengthening exercises each day, as I had been, and keep track of every mile of running.  Start very slow, working up incrementally each week.  Take the conservative approach to see if that helps things.  I was on board with this plan, and headed out to follow his instruction.

I didn't run for over a week.  I got a pinch runner the one time I got a base hit in softball.  I did my exercises.  I was feeling so much better.

The week of July 4th I laced up and took it easy.  I ran Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but went slowly and kept the miles low.  It was super hot that week, so aside from the Monday night group run, I ran pre-dawn so I could beat the heat.  Running in the early morning is so wonderful, I really miss it.  I wish I had time during the week to run before getting ready for work, but our schedule just doesn't have the space for that.

Three miles Monday night, 3.6 Wednesday morning, and about 3.5 on Friday morning.  Those miles felt great, and being able to come home, water the plants outside, enjoy some Nuun, then some coffee - this is how I'd like every morning to be.  Start with a run, savor the morning, then get on with the day. 

In my elated state, I signed up for a 5K on the 14th.  {I bet you know where this is going} pretty bad ass about my self control (ie: not running like Forrest Gump right out of the gates), I returned to the store on Monday night to join the group run.  I figured an easy 3-4 miles would do me some good.  My running buddy, suffering from some nasty IT band annoyance, and I set out slowly and chatted as we ran along.  Less than a mile in, though, I knew I couldn't keep going, and wouldn't get to our 3-4 mile goal.  We started back to the store at a mile, and I could tell something wasn't right.  Sadly, we only got in 1.9 miles that night.  To say I was disappointed would be a gross understatement.

How the hell could I go from doing some easy 3-ish miles runs to barely squeaking out 1.9?  What the hell is going on here?  And I had a 5K to do.  Great.  Looks like another week off from the track and other running so I could get to that 5K.

I started having sharp pains when I shifted my weight from one side to the other.  I started having difficulty whenever I would have to lift my right leg.  It wasn't consistent, but when it struck, it was sharp and it showed on my face.  I stuffed myself into my little capsule of denial and still did the 5K.

The first couple miles of the 5K were fine.  I had my best first mile probably ever, at sub-8, but since I didn't have my Garmin set to splits, there is no evidence of that.  I wish I could project my vision of what I saw when I looked at my Garmin at the first mile.  Maybe someday there will be an app for that.

The last mile of this race were a challenge.  I could not slow down much because I knew my hip would want me to walk, and getting back to even a trot would not happen even with an act of Congress.  I had to keep running.  I had to let others pass me.  I had to finish.  Come on, it's only 3.1 miles! finished.  I was in pain.  I won't post the picture that was taken of me heading to the finish line.  Mostly because I hate pictures of myself running, but in this case my face is a full window to the pain I was feeling in my hip.  My teammates were amazing and supportive, helped me stretch, reminded me to go easy on myself, and committed to forcing me to stretch after every run we would do together moving forward.  They were sympathetic of my pain, but, we all knew this meant that my hip wasn't and isn't healed.  <sad face>

My gut told me that I needed to take the next step.  I need to heal this hip. 

I e-mailed my PT Monday afternoon.  I outlined my mileage, symptoms, and asked for his thoughts on what I should do next, and how seriously I should consider the possibility of a tear.  His response was that I should have it looked at and get some diagnostic tests, if for nothing else than to rule out a worst case scenario.  I am going to be calling him to get in for an adjustment, too.

The pain has subsided, for the most part, and today I can tell the pelvis is out of place again, but, the pain is entirely different than what I've been experiencing to this point.  Monday night I began to have what felt like spasms at the front of my hip, and those have all but gone away.  Walking is easier today, but not great.  I am slightly limping, and my lower back and pelvis are dying for another adjustment.

Finally, I have decided to drop out of this year's Chicago Marathon.  It has taken me quite some time to come to this decision, but I know it is for the best.  I need to get my hip in shape so that 2013 is my year to run the marathon the way I want to run that race.  For now, I won't be running and will be working on getting stronger so I can heal up. 

I am oddly OK with my decision, but know that I'll probably fall apart as the marathon gets closer.  Still, I know in the end that I'll be running that marathon next year.  I'll be a better, stronger runner, and this is just a minor set back. 

On to the next chapter...