I know I’ve been gone for a while. Maybe this will help you understand why. This post is long and filled with emotion – you’ve been warned.
I did really well at the Slacker Half Marathon in June 2012. It’s a serious downhill race that is brutal on the body. I felt fine when I finished. I’ve done this race like 3 or 4 times. This was my second half for the year. I felt my summer was moving along pretty normal. I was getting in races when I could and then started training for the Denver Marathon. Nothing out of the ordinary.
This year, I decided to change my diet so I wouldn’t be carrying extra weight during the big race. I cut out a lot of my guilty pleasures and started eating less junk. I was losing weight at a healthy pace. My mom was scheduled to come out for my birthday in August so maybe I cut back too much. I started to get stressed. About her visit, my weight, getting my pace down, getting all my runs in, work…on and on. Then something didn’t feel right. My right hip…again. I injured my hip before while training for the Denver Marathon. Diagnosis was something with my hip flexors being too tight. I went through physical therapy and it was fine for the race. So I started doing the same stretches and exercises from before and continued on. First mistake.
So my mom arrived two days before my next half. My favorite Colorado half – the Georgetown-Idaho Springs Half. Not as brutal as the Slacker, but still a rolling downhill race. I helped my mom get some new running gear the day before the race. She wears high heals entirely too much in my opinion, so I use every excuse I can to get her into flats. Surprised when she bought $100 running shoes! My mom has been to this race with me before and was looking forward to it. I was running the race with a friend, but neither of them had any idea what was going on in my head. My hip hurt. I kept stretching and smiling like there was nothing wrong. My friend, Renee, is super fast and gets so amped up at the starting line. I didn’t want her to worry. So as I stood at the start, I kept thinking it’s okay. It’ll loosen up once I get running. Second mistake.
The first mile was the worst. I felt like I couldn’t find my groove. Chalked it up to the rough terrain of the roads in Georgetown. Mile two wasn’t much better. I was already walking. This ain’t good. Mile three, a little better. Maybe I can do this. I started to settle into a good pace and didn’t have to walk as much. I got to the halfway mark ahead of my split time I did at the Slacker. I thought I really could have a good time at this race so I kept pushing harder. Come on, my mom was at the finish line. I had to impress her, right? Another mistake.
I crossed the finish line only 7 minutes off of my fastest time at this race. I was really pleased with my effort. But as my muscles tensed up, the pain started in. I had done something to my hip. Walking was so difficult. I met up with Renee and my mom. God bless Renee for having so much energy. She was more than happy to get things for me as I sat in the grass with my mom. We sat there for a long time and it didn’t seem to be helping. I pushed along with them as we got lunch and shopped. Idaho Springs is the sweetest little town. But as all of you know, I was stuck in my head wondering what I had done. Driving home was the worst. It’s about two plus hours from there to my house. I drove my truck and, well, I found it very difficult to get my foot moved from the brake to the gas pedal. It’s very hilly in that area and I was using my hand to lift my leg back and forth. No one noticed. Runners are good at hiding pain.
It was my birthday the next day. Yippee! A bunch of us were doing a 5K at Pikes Peak Internation Raceway (PPIR). My mom is a HUGE NASCAR fan so I signed her up too. I thought it would be cool for her to do her first 5K with me and that she would enjoy walking on the race track. Oh my, what pain. I absolutely couldn’t run 50 feet before I was grimacing in pain. My mom thought I walked too fast so she would run ahead thereby making me play catchup. I did have fun with my friends and having my mom there, but I was miserable (except for the beer). Huge thanks to Sarah for sunning and drinking with me. But the race was another mistake.
Instead of going to the doctor about my hip. I self diagnosed and started physical therapy. I felt the pain was the same as before and continued on like I had before. I was still trying to exercise. Still dieting. Still working. And in so much pain. First, PT thought my hip flexors were so tight that it was pulling my hip out of place. I did dry needling on my inner thigh to try to get some release. The worst was getting up from sitting at work. I had to stand for a few seconds to get my hip to relax enough to walk. They then thought it could be my sacroiliac joint or SI joint. I started wearing the belt to to reduce or eliminate motion in my hips. It hurt to wear and I was miserable. One joyful moment was the buying of my road bike. I thought if I couldn’t run, I should be able to ride a bike. More mistakes.
I had signed up for the Dirty Dash 5K mud run with some friends. Sarah, Cindy and I had done the Diva Dash together in Boulder. I knew Cindy wanted to get back at me for pushing her in the water. No really we had fun at the Boulder race and I didn’t want to let them down. I really tried to run. I know they wanted to run it, but I couldn’t. Really couldn’t. So I tried to make the mud pits fun. Jumping and splashing. We got so dirty…together! I absolutely loved them for staying with me. I owe them big time.
My hip started to feel better but I knew with the remaining timeframe that Denver was slipping away. I was getting in some miles on my bike. I looked at getting another half in before the year was up. Really!?! What was I thinking?!? Like an idiot, I signed up for the Route 66 Half in Tulsa, OK with Sarah. It was in late November and it was just the start of September. I can do that, right?!? I even went and did another 5K for charity with Renee. More mistakes.
Well the SI belt wasn’t working in my opinion so I started asking more questions at PT. I was following all the instructions, but I still couldn’t run. Then, I was asked to jump on my right leg. I couldn’t. I was told it was time for x-rays. So I went in for them and they didn’t show anything. My doctor requested an MRI. I played the waiting game for approvals, getting the MRI, and then waiting for the results. At the end of September, I got the dreaded news. I had a femoral neck stress fracture. I was given immediate orders to get off my right leg. No weight bearing. I waited again to see a specialist. Luckily he allowed me to use crutches as an aide to take some of the weight off of my right leg. My armpits thanked him.
So he said four weeks of crutches. On the outside, I was still saying that I could make it to Tulsa. On the inside, I was falling slowly downhill. I was so scared to walk on my leg. The couch, t.v. and facebook became my friends. I was still trying to keep up with my work, but with the crutches and meds I was on, I felt like I was always in a fog. My work seemed to think “she was walking on it fine a few weeks ago” or “milking the injury isn’t she”. Add in that the pain meds caused migraines and insomnia, BONUS! I started eating to cope. I became a recluse. And then my doctor told me shouldn’t do Tulsa. My hip still didn’t feel right so I was put on crutches for another month. Bye, bye November!
The pounds started to creep on. Which just made me more miserable. Only good news was getting off the crutches for Thanksgiving and going to a cane. Everyone I know are runners so it was hard to listen to them talk about running. I didn’t know if I’d ever get back to it. My hip hurt constantly, but I didn’t know if it was bone pain or muscle pain. The final MRI came back with almost completely healed. I was told I could start walking without the cane the second week of December. I was filled with fear. It was not a happy Christmas. I was walking more, but I was so afraid of pushing it. Fear is a bitch!
It’s now March 2013. I’m running now. The fear is still there. The pain is there sometimes. I was released from PT in January and I see a massage therapist two times a month. I ran my first race on Superbowl Sunday. Only a 5K – 3.1 miles of emotions. My best bud, Renee, was there. She’s always been there for me. I didn’t cry; she did. I was still filled with apprehension about how my hip would feel afterwards. Renee won an award cuz she’s super fast. I had a beer! I needed to celebrate a little. Looking back, I made so many mistakes. The biggest was toeing the line at Georgetown. I should have never ran that race. Oh hindsight! I know I have a long road ahead of me. I’m starting from scratch again. I get discouraged sometimes. Wondering if I’ll ever get back to where I was before. Sometimes I just need to have a good cry and move on. Honestly, I’ve been to the bottom and hard work, determination and commitment is the only way back. I’ll get there…slow and steady. Thanks for listening and being there for me when I needed you – even if you didn’t know it.