Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MCM 10k and a diagnosis

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I hope you have a day full of treats. If you're anything like me, you never get trick or treaters at your apartment but still buy three bags of candy "just in case." Don't judge me.

As promised, here is a recap of the MCM 10k. The weather, despite all the doomsday predictions, was fine. A little chilly at the start, but perfect for running.  I got to the starting area about 45 minutes early, so I had the pleasure of watching the sun rise over the Capital building. I was with A and we had planned to warm up, but she was adamant that she hit up the porta-potty before the race started, despite how long the lines were. We waited up until and after the race started, much to my annoyance. When A was finally ready to go, the last group of runners were edging their way over the start line.

This meant that we'd be dodging slower walkers and runners for at least the first mile, if not more, trying to make up ground and get to the pack we should have started with. I was definitely not happy. A and I spent the first 2 miles together but split shortly after, which was fine with me. We had difference races to run. I spent all 6.2 miles passing people. On one hand it was a nice ego boost, but on the other I never caught up with anyone that would challenge me to run faster. I had to get all my motivation internally, which isn't exactly my strong suit.

The 14th street bridge was just as long as I'd remembered. Ugh. The entirety of the course was familiar to me, thanks to training runs and last year's marathon. I just needed to pay attention to my hip and adjust accordingly. My longest run in the past month had been 3 miles, so I wasn't entirely prepared. The loop through Crystal City was fine, which left the stretch of 110 to Iwo Jima. I knew going into this that a PR was not possible, similar to the 5k from the week before. It was a disappointment but I'm learning to let things like that go.

I picked up the pace for the last mile, as best I could, and stormed the hill leading up to the finish line. For once I got a race photo that wasn't showing me shuffling or grimacing. If it didn't cost an arm and a leg, I'd buy it. I really like the determination on my face and the fact that I'm mid-stride.

I finished in 1:05 and change, which is about 7 minutes off my PR. I was relieved to be done and glad that I can muscle out a distance over 3 when the occasion calls for it.  Richmond is 10 days away and I'm feeling better about the 8k now that the 10k is done. I haven't run since Sunday, thanks in part to the weather, but will be running to work tomorrow for certain. I set a running goal for November and I'm looking forward to taking it on. Here's one last picture, courtesy of a Ragnar buddy I ran into at the finish line.
Now, my hip. I saw my favorite chiropractor on Monday morning and after a quick discussion of symptoms and some manipulation of the area, he pronounced it a case of bursitis. The bursa, I've learned, is a small jelly-like sac that acts as a cushion between bones and soft tissue and helps reduce friction between gliding muscles and bone. There are a number of causes, but in my case it appears to be from overuse. I started experiencing symptoms after Ragnar, which makes perfect sense.

Treatment is non-surgical and pretty straightforward. Option 1 involves avoiding activities that exacerbate the condition. Hmm. Yeah. Running is the least painful activity, surprisingly. Walking, using stairs, and moving from a sitting to standing position are what hurts the most. Slightly harder to avoid. Option 2 involves taking anti-inflammatories, which I was already doing. Right now 4 ibuprofen gelcaps take the edge off, but I need to start taking less because of the possibility of liver damage.

What Mr. Chiro suggested, in the short term (pre-Richmond), is two more appointments with him for adjustment and manipulation. In addition, I need to be using the foam roller at home for a few minutes a day, targeting the hip flexor, hip joint, and periformis on the afflicted leg. I can continue to take pain meds but need to cut it down to 2-3 at a time. I'm not sure how long it will take for this to heal but sooner would be better.

As far as prevention goes it appears that I need to avoid repetitive activity that puts stress on the hips, lose weight (gee, thanks), and maintain/build the strength and flexibility of the hip area. I'm the first to admit that I am terrible at doing exercises/stretches/etc. When I was rehabbing my hamstring, I didn't do the PT exercises as directed and it took twice as long to heal. Dummy. So, what I'm trying to say is that I'd love advice from anyone who has experienced this. I can do the foam roller business, no problem. Beyond that, I'm not sure. All suggestions are welcome, and I can probably get D to nag me to death until I do the requisite exercises. I do want to feel better and come out stronger.

Well, that's that. I have four more short races planned between now and December 31st. I have not looked at 2013 yet; I'm waiting for details on a few races slated for early 2013 before committing to anything. One thing I've learned from my ambitious 2012 plan is that you cannot control what happens. You can register for races until the cows come home but the body will do what it wants to do and you just need to roll with it. This year was nothing like what I'd planned. I don't have regrets but I do have "what ifs" kicking around. I'm guessing most of us do.

I hope everyone who raced this past weekend did well, and I am super proud of all my friends and co-workers that raced a strong Marine Corps Marathon. You're an inspiration to me and I can't wait to get out on the road with you all again soon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Since you've been gone...

It is a pretty safe assumption that if I am not posting here, I am not running. Post-Ragnar I started to experience significant pain in my left hip. It was painful to walk, so running just seemed like a bad idea. Normally, I'd just run on it, but I'm trying to be more responsible. Sort of. Because of my current work/school situation, I am unable to afford the cost of an evaluation at my doctor. That being said, I've been playing doctor myself and trying to assess and treat it accordingly.

The no-running plan didn't seem to be helping at all and the MCM 10k was approaching very quickly. I hate losing money on registration fees, not to mention kicking myself for being unable to partake of the race experience. Giving up my bib to someone else was just not an option. I've already had to shelve the marathon this year because of injury, I'm not about to miss more. So...I decided to run on it. And surprisingly, it hurts less then when I walk or sit. I'll call that a win. I've been getting out a couple of times a week for 2-3 miles at a time.

It hasn't been pretty, as my fitness level is almost back to square one. But I'm trying. Twice a week I run to work, since it is exactly 3 miles from the apartment and a very safe route. I get in another run around the neighborhood, and that is my week. I'm not pushing the distance and just focusing on being comfortable on my feet. As long as the pain doesn't get worse, I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing.

In fact, to keep myself motivated and reward D for his hard work, we signed up for a small (read: 80 people) 5k in Alexandria last weekend. It was D's first race and he was pretty excited.  I just hoped I could hang in there and make it a good experience for him.  He put me in charge of setting the pace and I had doubts that I could handle it. I wasn't feeling strong at all but it wasn't about my race experience this time. At the gun we headed out and I tried to settle into a pace that I hoped was sub-10.

When we got to the first mile marker, I was on track. We were in the 9 range. I tried to maintain that pace for the second mile and it seemed to be working. Once we passed that marker I decided to see if I could push it at all. It felt harder but I honestly wasn't sure if I was running faster or if I was just getting tired. My watch said we'd probably make it in under 30 minutes, which was my hope. I know that isn't a particularly grand accomplishment, but it meant something to us.

As we round the corner of the course that led onto a high school track, we had 300 meters to go and it was time to see what we had left. D told me earlier in the race not to push it at the end because I was experiencing some pain but I didn't want my discomfort to effect his race so I pushed. We crossed the line in 28:35, 4 minutes off my PR but a victory for both of us. The overall pace was 9:13, and I'm pleased with that. Most of my runs this month have hovered between 10 and 11, aka slug pace.

Due to the size of the event I was able to get 5th in my age group. I won't tell you how many were in that age group, (more than 5) but I was pleased. The age group winner ran close to my PR time, so if I'd been in better condition I could have challenged her. There will always be another race, so I'm not going to sweat it. In fact, I have two more races in the next 2 weeks and 2 more in the month after. Nothing longer than a 10k and enough to keep me on my feet into December.

I am going to run the MCM 10k on Sunday morning. I'm going to cross that finish line and I don't particularly care how I get there, (run, walk, crawl). I know my time is probably going to be a PW, but I did set a 10k PR already this year so I can't be greedy. I'm in very different shape, so I need to adjust my race plan accordingly. I've been reminded by a trusted running friend that I just need to have fun and enjoy the experience. I generally have a hard time doing that, but I'll give it a shot.

I won't be able to run with my usual training partner because of our difference in ability right now, but we're heading in together and we'll meet at the end. I also have the pleasure of meeting up with K at the start, whom I haven't seen in several months. I'm ignoring the weather forecast for the moment. Aside from impacting my wardrobe choices, it isn't going to change anything for me. I'm still racing. I'm not a fair weather runner. Hurricane, schmurricane.

For those of you that are curious, post-MCM racing will be the Richmond 8k (boo), the Arlington Turkey Trot 5k, and the YCF Jingle Bell Jog 5k. That puts me into December and I'm hesitant to plan beyond that. I like doing the Fairfax Four Miler on NYE, but I need to wait and see.

So...that's where I've been and what I've been up to. Before you just to scold me re: the hip, I'll tell you that because of someone's generosity, I will be having an assessment at the chiropractor on Monday morning. I won't be able to pursue an in-office course of treatment at this time, but I will get some answers and some advice. A 10k race report and the results of that visit will be my next post, so fear not. I know you missed me. All 2 of you still reading.