Two days ago I officially requested a deferral of my CIM race entry until 2018. It was a very difficult decision and one that took over two months to make. I have been keeping my fingers crossed, praying, rehabilitating, denying, and ignoring my injury and its impact on me since it occurred at the 6.5-mile turnaround on a “long run Sunday” with my CIM training group.
After a glorious August filled with a half on Anacortes island in Washington State and the Bridge of the Gods run in Cascades Lock, Oregon I took on my training group run with not a care in the world. My previous runs were not great, but uneventful, so when I decided to add a mile to the scheduled 12-miler I thought nothing of it. At about mile 7 or so I took a step that sent pain shearing down my right leg. I stopped to stretch and thought, I better take it easy. A coach rode by and asked if I were doing ok. I described my pain but told her I would continue on.
It’s funny, but just a few weeks earlier I told my friend, also a runner, that the pain study some of us enrolled into was doomed to be a failure. I hypothesized that the study would be skewed by the mere fact that runners are trained and seek to be able to run through pain. So asking people if they stopped running because of pain would be a moot point. She agreed with me.
I continued to run, and with every step, I felt first my lower back and leg tighten, then ultimately, my middle back and right hip as I fought to return back to the starting location. The coach rode with me and offered me her bike. I declined and stubbornly continued on at a snail’s pace. She noted I was sweating salt like crazy and wondered if perhaps my fueling and hydration was the culprit since my muscles seemed to be the problem. I went home and straight to bed.
The next few days I could barely move. I couldn’t turn over or adjust my body position without involuntary gasps and moans. I felt stupid and defeated. I have a history of back pain so I decided to try a Chiropractor. I received some adjustments and electrical stimulation which aligned the rest of my back (upper) and provided temporary relief of my discomfort. However, when it didn’t seem to get better, I went in to see my doctor. I was provided with some muscle relaxers and a referral to an MRI and eventually a CT scan to rule out a fracture of the sacrum. The tests were “negative’ but showed some pretty good swelling at the SI joints.
Ok. I didn’t know anything about SI joints. I do now.
I made and kept an appointment with a Sports Doc who recommended I undergo a PRP procedure. Platelet-rich plasma injections from my own blood would be administered directly into the joints at my lower back. I can tell you that it felt like someone was forcing toothpaste into my back, and down my legs. I am pretty pain tolerant as evidenced by my stupidly continuing to run when I should have been carried back. Well, this procedure was no fun at all. The goal of the procedure is to stimulate my own bodies response to the injury in such a fashion that recovery would be accelerated. In my heart, I wanted to get back to running as soon as possible.
Now mind you, I couldn’t even get into my car without severe pain, but somehow I hoped I would still be able to run the 2017 CIM. I felt so sad, and that’s putting it mildly.
I follow the Fleet Feet CIM training group on Facebook. It is usually a source of camaraderie and a way to share our experiences. I felt myself being left behind. I have over the last three years made friends with people I met in training my first time around, in 2015. Now, I felt even more alone because I wanted to be with them as they talked about their increase in mileage, the changing weather, and their training progress.
Sometimes, and seemingly more often than in other years, people posted about their own injuries and frustrations. I felt their pain and wondered if they were sad too.
I gave my Urban Cow Half marathon race bib to a lovely friend of mine so that it would not go to waste, and instead volunteered. By the end of the event, I could barely walk and spent the next couple days nursing my back.
Three weeks after the PRP procedure I enrolled and attended physical therapy at the same location where I was assessed and accepted into the pain study. When I wobbled in and turned in my barely started chron they all sighed, knowing they had one less subject to follow. The goal now is to stabilize the SI joints by strengthening my core muscles.
I love the people helping me get better. They understand when I cry because I have terrible balance; balance I worked so hard to improve through three years of my yoga practice, a yoga practice I can no longer attend. They laugh with me when I break out in a heavy sweat after just a few squats and walk out on shaky legs. They support my efforts and keep my hopes up that I might return to running if I just work hard enough.
I am planking, squatting, bridging, superman-ing, rubber banding, etc, etc. I have to. My goal of running a half in each of the 50 States has been placed on hold after 18 states. Everything seems to have stopped. My routine is altered. The dog is getting fat. I’ve placed myself on a strict diet since I’m not exercising except for physical therapy sessions. Everything is screwy.
I am still sad. I’m a little scared. Imagine if someone told you to stop doing something that you not only love doing but makes you feel good because you do it. It’s a double whammy.
I miss my runs. I miss the meditation they brought to me. I miss my friends. I miss the flopping ears of my dog when she ran with me. I miss it all, even the tired muscles and the stinky clothes. I miss it enough to do my best to get it back. Only this time, I won’t complain about planks, or Goddess pose, or getting up early, or that the dog pulls on the leash.
Sounds like I’m bargaining with God, doesn’t it? Well maybe, but mostly I’m putting all my faith in Him and asking, no demanding, that my faith is rewarded with results. Afterall, what else can I do? I’ve got a race in December 2018.
Thanks for listening.