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Hip checked! Stress reaction shelves my running plans for about a month

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5ksandcabernets: Hip checked! Stress reaction shelves my running plans for about a month

5ksandcabernets

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hip checked! Stress reaction shelves my running plans for about a month

Picture of my hip as doc administers  iodine.
Maybe I'm not crazy.

The disaster in Chicago. Running a minute slower than normal on a Thanksgiving 5k. A subpar half-marathon finish at the 3M Half Marathon. Then another marathon disaster, this time at the Austin Marathon.

During each of the above-mentioned runs - and sometimes during the training leading up to the race, something odd would happen and I wouldnt feel myself.  Not real pain, per se. Just some weakness in my left leg, like I couldnt push off, couldnt power through things.

I just figured things would get better after a good taper, or with better weather.

Six days after running Austin, I went out for a 10.5-mile run. At about the 8-mile mark, I stop for water. When I tried to start running again, it was like someone had poured some poison or a vat of acid in my legs, especially my left one. My hips felt so stiff. I was averaging about a 7:30 min/mile before the water stop at Mile 8, and I was lucky to run 9:00 min/mile the last two miles. The weakness was the same that I'd felt at the Austin and Chicago marathons, the weakness I would feel before the cramps would start.

I set up an MRI for my hip, which was last Thursday. I'm a little claustrophobic, so laying in that tube with those weird noises going off was way worse than any needle I saw that day.

But things would only get worse. My physical therapist was given the results of my MRI on my back and hip and emailed them to me Friday. Here is part of that email:

"You have a disc herniation L4-5, L2-3 subtle disc bulge but no herniation.  No labrum[sic] tear in the hip, but noted stress reactive change.  Beginning phase of a stress fracture.  So, no running."

 What? What? I called my physical therapist and asked what this meant. Stress reaction? Herniated disc? Subltle bulging disc?

"Yep," she said. "You need to take off from running for 4 to 6 weeks."

On the one hand, I am not too happy about not running. Especially not running for at least a month. But on the other hand, at least I can now begin to understand why some of my races suck so bad. I don't like to make excuses, but I knew something was wrong with me. How else to explain 13-, 14-, and 15-minute miles at the end of the Austin and Chicago marathons? Marathons where cramping begin at Mile 15. Mile 15!

How else to explain a 20-minute 5K on Thanksgiving when a year earlier, I'd run a 19:08 5K on a much hillier course?

The thing is, I couldn't explain it. But a hip/back issue kinda makes sense. And I now remember when I probably hurt myself. Last June, I twisted my left knee running in a new pair of shoes (that I don't wear anymore). Instead of resting, I limped my way through some of the most painful runs I've ever had, putting a lot of pressure on other parts of my body - and apparently my hip took more of the pounding that it should have.Since then, I've also had this weird groin pain, where it hurts to squeeze my legs together or roll over in bed sometimes.  Stretching after a long or hard run also induces cramps in my inner thighs.

That's the only thing I can think of. In short races, I've lacked explosion, and in long races, I use other parts of my leg to overcompensate for my weakened hip and by Mile 15, both of my legs are cramping.

Again, I didn't feel pain during races and training runs, just an inordinate amount of stiffness - and lots of pain afterward. My back? That was a surprise, though from time to time, it gets achy and stiff, but again, I just figured that malady would go away with a good taper. (This still doesnt explain how I can run decent in training, but my marathons are just terrible. But maybe when you add the stress of a race to stressful joints, you get what I've got in marathons.)

I'm still going to get a second opinion to nail things down - but for now, no running. Its the first significant time I'll go without running in three years. I'll miss the Cap 10K coming up a the end of the month, but hopefully, I get myself healed.

Guess I've got more time to work on the cabernets part of 5ksandcabernets!
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Update...3:34 p.m. Monday...

I've scheduled a second opinion for my back and hip for Wednesday. Maybe they will just tell me to sit out two or three weeks, or run only two or three times a week instead of everyday. Fingers crossed!

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Update: A second opinion on the MRI revealed a stress fracture in my pelvis. Ouch!

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