One of my favorite comments these days is “we’re having a 1st world conversation, here”. When I’m talking to my hairdresser about the people who clean our homes. Seriously. Or to my masseuse about anything. Or my acupuncturist/chiropractor about anything. Or my trainer about anything. Or my coach about anything. Or the cleaning service ladies about anything. (OK, I don’t say it to them.)
I’m in the middle of a first world situation. For the past year I have been focused on running a race in Berlin (Germany) at the end of this month. Again. Last year I had the race of my life in Berlin. A friend suggested that we go run it again this year, and I was all for it. I love the course (it’s super flat and fast) and it’s an interesting city.
I was really on track through the first of June. I did a course PR at the 5K race on Memorial day, one of my measurement races, setting myself up to do a new, overall PR in the 4th of July 5K. I PR-ed the Half Marathon in San Diego the first weekend of June. (Admittedly I had help because the coach came and got me at about mile 10 and ran with me the last 3 miles, which always helps.) And I frittered away about 10 minutes in that June race, which is a lot.
But in the July 4th race I got lost on the course (in a manner of speaking), and did not PR. And then I didn’t race again until the end of July, and that was too hard of a race to RUN — actually it was too dangerous of a race to RUN for a girl who has delicate ankles — and it didn’t really do me any good to WALK half of a half. And then I did the Santa Rosa full marathon at the end of August, but for a variety of reasons that was not a good race. (I didn’t know what my assignment was, in terms of running — why was I there? I didn’t know. And I was with a new marathoner who hit the wall about 17. Yadda, yadda.) And then I did the Disneyland Half the very next weekend in high, high humidity and pretty high heat and finished really slowly — which is something of a reasonable excuse except when you’re supposed to be building to a new marathon PR.
I have had this pain in my butt for about 2 years. It is very intermittent, but when it strikes, it’s like an ice pick stab. Over the last two years, it occurs only occasionally. One the things that always makes it happen is moving from any yoga pose into down dog. To get into that pose, I have to bend my right knee, move into the pose, and then straighten the leg. In the Santa Rosa marathon there was a least a mile in which each step was like an ice pick stab in the spot where it happens. I wondered if I would have to DNF from the pain. But eventually it went away.
When 2012 started I told the body work experts (masseuse and acupuncturist/chiropractor) that I wanted to identify and solve that pain. But sometimes I would forget to remind them. And it was rarely an issue at the moment of treatment.
Occasionally my weight workout would be impacted, if some motion make the ice pick stab occur. But the trainer was really the only person who ever had me say “ouch” right in front of him.
So here we are in September and the problem hasn’t been solved.
Last Tuesday, after a massage, my butt hurt from the deep, deep muscle work the massusse had done. About 4 hours after the massage I went for a 5 mile run. Every step was the ice pick stab. I could not believe the pain. Needless to say that run wasn’t at race pace. That run was a hobble back to the house.
But it needed to be a 40 mile week, so the next day I went down to the beach to run 13 miles. When I got to 5 I turned around — I had no idea how I was going to get back to the car. Every step was the stab of the ice pick in that one spot. It was astonishing pain. I ran all of the way — if you can call that hobbling I was doing running.
The next day I was telling my trainer about the pain and he said “I think it’s time to bring in the Western medical experts”. I went to see my internist, who by her own admission knows nothing, but thought it might be ischial bursitis. She referred me to a local ortho guy (who takes my insurance). I got in to see him on Friday and he was great. All gung ho with me about how to treat this matter to get me running in Berlin. Heavy duty anti-inflammatory pills, prescription anti-inflammatory cream, an MRI, a cortisone shot, and, as protection, a pill to take to Germany to mask the pain while I run.
Same day, next appointment I went to see the acupuncturist/chiropractor who said “that all sounds fine”, then stuck needles in the spot and told me not to run over the weekend. It was hard not to. By Sunday night I felt pretty good and wanted to go for a run, but I did not, trying to abide by the directions. Interesting to find that I was so anxious to get out there and do it.
Monday evening I went out for a little run at the beach. I ran 100 steps and had to stop. I could not imagine taking 4500+ more steps at that level of pain. It wasn’t an ice pick anymore, admittedly. It was like a hammer blow – hard and dull. That was disappointing.
By the time I saw the acupuncturist again on Tuesday morning, I was thinking seriously about the whole German trip — the marathon is in 3 weeks and I am unable to run 100 steps in what should be my last, high-mileage week. Not good. I was having serious second thoughts about doing all the interventions to do the race. I not getting paid to do the race. It’s an optional thing. He listed to me for a long time, asked some questions and then said to me – “don’t go”. In his opinion, the interventions might allow me to do the race, but the effects would probably require 9 months of recovery. And he helped me reminder that I always say the goal is to be walking into Ralphs on my own two legs when I’m 80.
Then I talked at length with Janet, the friend who is going to Berlin with me. She flat out said “don’t go”. Don’t put yourself at risk. The long term damage isn’t worth it. (And she’s speaking from experience of not treating an injury immediately.)
So the Sole Runners were at the beach for hill repeats last night. The coach and Mark and I were talking, and one of them said “aren’t you running tonight” and I said, I can’t run. And I don’t remember the next sentence, but the response was “I can’t go to Berlin”. Now Mark doesn’t know what a big deal this is — to be saying I’m not going for the first time — and so he said “oh, that’s a bummer”. Told a story about somebody else who couldn’t do an event, and the conservation went on.
It’s not a big deal. It happens to people all the time. And, once I came to grips with the issue, I’m OK with not going to Berlin. The coach and I talked about the training year, thus far, and how I’m falling back from the peak with no way to recover. Even if I were all better tomorrow, I cannot recoup these last 3 weeks of training.
Then, today I got a call from the doctor, himself, who says there is a dark spot on the MRI and they want to do another one, with contrast. The dark spot could be a blood clot, or something else, or nothing. They’re scheduling the MRI. I’m NOT looking on the internet — I don’t want to know. I got to tell the doc that I’ve decided it’s not imperative that I run the race at all costs, and I want to take a less invasive, less aggressive approach to this.
The picture that starts this blog is, indeed, exactly where it hurts on me. It doesn’t radiate. It doesn’t go down my leg. It’s that one spot. It may very well be an inflamed bursa. But I’m not getting a shot to fix it (unless it’s a last resort). I’m going to try PT, acupuncture, massage, and rest.
What’s next? I’m going to hope to be ready for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27th — that’s about 6 1/2 weeks. I want to run a half marathon with Stacey and Brian Soares the first weekend of December (but running isn’t required, necessarily). And I want to run the Rose Parade Bandit Run on New Year’s Day. (But that is totally at my own pace, whatever that may be.)
I worked out with the trainer today and we set a new path at least through the end of October. And we agreed that I have to walk as aggressively as I was running in an effort to keep my cardio endurance up. (I also went to the beach and walked briskly 3 miles in 56 minutes.)
And, starting 1 November, I’m going to train for an early spring triathlon. Buy a bike. Get a swimsuit. Get a wetsuit. The coach says “you have to swim two days, bike two days, and run two days…that’s six days a week”. He said that like I haven’t been working 6 days a week for months. It will be interesting to be doing different things. (Although I don’t know about the swimming the most. I took swim lessons about 5 years ago and never did feel like I was making much progress.)
I need to get a diagnosis and start working towards resolution on this thing. I’m looking forward to the new challenge.