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"Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose." ~C. S. Lewis

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PostHeaderIcon Memory of May 2013

Tis funny almost to think of it now. I was still having pretty major right hip issues. Been lucky enough since then to have nearly no tinge at all. But flash back to end of April last year, getting ready for a freaky hilly 10k in Sammamish, and I wasn’t sure it was going to happen at all.

A few weeks earlier, I’d met Dr. Bob for the first time. His acupuncture released a ton of stuff in a complimentary session with Coach Bryan Hoddle. I mentioned my hip issue so he added a few needles to aid in releasing whatever was going on in that area. I mean, it had been two years of some kind of hip pain, no matter what I did. It was deep and uncomfortable. Occasionally it would subside but really, it was always pretty present. And I tried lots of various things, natural and not. All in vain.

Was it grief? Not dealt with? What was causing this deep seated, literally, issue? For quite some time I’d chalked it up to the weirder-than-strange head bump/concussion I’d given myself in April 2011. That had repercussions in a number of areas in my body. And head. And all that training and ALL that frickin’ driving (note to self – stop trying to prove something to people) had to have done a number on my hip. How could it not? So, here I am trying acupuncture and hoping hoping it helps.

Well, it did. In that, it moved. The pain went from deep in the right groin pain, that limited severely movement to in my right glute and top of my hamstring. Owweee. When I ran, it was more acute, the pain. Whereas before it was constant but muted, this was sharply painful and inconsistent. Although consistently during a run for sure. What the hell? What had I done? Hmm. I am sure it’s all connected, right? The right shoulder, hip, knee, hamstring, glute. Heck, sometimes it crosses the body, the muscles are all so interwoven. So, I have a big ol’ unraveling to do on my right side. Awesome. But how?

Did this mean I had to fully back off running? Nah. It really meant more sessions. In the meantime, I had a 10k to prepare for and the day before I’m for real concerned and for real freaking out. Should I? Shouldn’t I? I had a half coming up in Portland, and another half in Seattle a month later in June. Is this stupid for me to even attempt, will I do more harm than good, will it be worth it? Part of me thinks, just go do it even if half of it is walking (yeah right, in a race, my competitive side, with myself, knows no bounds.) But this is by far the most I’ve hesitated before a race.

So, I decide to text two people. One, my LA trainer Schuyler who knows me, my body and my running, plus he’s worked with ALL kinds of bodies and injuries and comebacks, so I’ll trust his advice. Then I text Coach Hoddle, head coach of the 2004 Paralympic Track and Field team. Working with runners is his work gig and his love.

I received pretty much the advice I was expecting. By that I mean – make your own decision by listening to your body. Don’t overdo it. Don’t go out if too painful or maybe cause more injury. And Schuyler suggested an epsom salt bath that night and make a morning game time decision. All very reasonable. Part of me, I think, wanted one of them to exclaim “DON’T DO IT!” or “DO IT, YOU’LL BE AWESOME AND JUST FINE!” in some way, but this was all much more subtle.

(Schuyler’s exact text: “Roll out tonight and get a good stretch in, maybe even a Epsom salt bath. If nothing changes in the morning and you have pain getting up or walking it’s not worth the damage it may do.” Coach Hoddle’s exact text: “I’d rest it. IT might set you back a bit. You’re a great competitor and it’ll be hard to hold back (during the race.) I have some theories on it.”)

Ok, so reading their actual texts, they did both pretty much say “don’t do it.” But, um, I digress. (funny little memory! I guess I really did want to do it!)

Having never done an epsom salt bath before a race, I’m curious how this will go down. It does feel good. And I’m still strongly considering not doing the race. But I will see how I feel in the am. I get a pretty decent night of sleep and wake up with the stronger desire to go through with it, in a state of wonder about my body and start to get read. And knowing full well in this case, I will in fact back off if something doesn’t feel right.

Race morning routine down, I easily head down to the start. It’s cold. And not super well organized. Ah well. It’s benefiting the Boys & Girls Club locally so it’s all good. It’s early and looks like decent weather. I thank my mom for dropping me off and get in the zone. The start is fine, I’m listening to my body. And I’m running just fine.

The biggest things I remember about the race is being pretty happy with my pace, and more importantly, feeling like while the glute/ham pain were ever present, I didn’t feel like I was doing any more damage by doing this run. And I kept running. About halfway through, we take a left and BOOM. Most. Giant. Big. Hill. I’ve. EVER. Encountered. In. A. Race. Wow. Seriously, I’ll be impressed to see anyone run the whole thing. It’s steep AND it’s long. (um, TWSS! :))

Deciding to go for it, I keep up my pace, with some decent energy. But about 1/3 up the hill, I’m not only feeling it generally, but the pain in my right leg is too much to be silly like this. So, having not done this before in a race, I start to walk. It’s steep uphill so it’s not exactly a cake walk all of a sudden. Feeling a few folks whiz, not really, by me, I’m bummed I’m walking but still ok with it. And end up passing a few slower walkers who’d sped by me earlier in the run. It’s certainly a bizarre course up until now. Cresting to the top, finally, we cross the main street in town and yes, looking that way down the hill…that’s a doozy.

Getting my wind back a bit, start switchbacking downhill on the other side, heading through a park and into a neighborhood. At this point, pretty much no one is around. Hard to get a sense of where everyone is, how the race is going and where are the spectators cheering us on? Wow, spoiled I am with big races and crowd support! Anyway, keep making my way through this neighborhood path, some downhill, some not and wondering if I’m making any time up from a significant walk. I mean, I had to have walked for a solid five minutes. And I can’t recall but I think I may have walked another part of the same hill or part of another hill.

But, while definitely feeling it in my leg, I’m now so far through the course I can’t help it, I have to keep going. And then the people helping guide the course become more and more sparse and I’m starting to wonder if I’m even still on the right course because there are not too many folks around. I see one and head right based on her motioning. As I get further down that road, it deadends at a T and there is NO ONE telling us where to go, nor a “not a through road” sign that would have been at least some evidence of which was not to probably go. So I spy back behind me and even though she’s pretty far away, she see me slow up and look left and right frantically for a few precious seconds.

She’s wildly waving  her arms to her left, over and over until I pitch left and give her a thumbs up and a wave. Ok, so that’ll need to be fixed for next year! Finally come up on the main road, heading to the finish line. What a weird end, still having to adhere to the signals that are right at the very end and do a very small double back to make the full length count. But, I head in, feeling actually a bit stronger than I thought I might.

So yeah, my leg hurt like a beeyotch after that. I talked with some sports therapy people who had booths at the post-race event. Couple of them use similar tools to what Dr. Bob had showed me he uses with athletes he works with. And I start to really wonder if I can move this out of my body altogether. I mean, a two year old in-the-same-place hip pain suddenly moved to the back of the same leg, nearly overnight. Thereby providing evidence that yes, in fact, I could get rid of that pain, so why not this brand new one?

I’m glad I did the race. And I ended up with a super solid finish time, especially impressive considering how much and not fast I walked up that hill. That gave me a little skip in my step for that and I am happy I listened to my body and went forward. Sure, some people wouldn’t have pushed but I like to think I listen well enough and know my body well enough that if I truly couldn’t or would’ve been facing serious continued damage, I wouldn’t have done it.

A 10k down, and then right around the corner, two half marathons. Originally I’d slated to do the 10k as a “training” run for the upcoming half. I mean, it is in fact a great distance when two weeks out from a half. So it was well timed. And turned out to be far more useful for me than originally thought, in that I listened to my body and worked with it to achieve a finish I was happy with and enjoy another race experience.

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