Saturday, February 2, 2008

Runner in Waiting: A bruised bone heals...

On December 8th, 2007 I ran the Hellgate 100k and as I often do, took a few falls (more on this later) during the 66ish mile event. Though I was sore and my left knee swelled, I really thought little of the “owie” I’d earned during the event…I just slowed and eventually finished up the last 20ish miles after the fall as I usually do-knowing that I was sore yet that it wouldn’t last forever. Back in December I was psyched to have PR’d, disappointed to have slowed down and assumed my knee would be “all better” in a matter of a week.

It was not better in a week. Or in two. Even after resting and icing and taking a horrible number of ibuprofen. I couldn’t run without lots of pain and so until I could have my MRI, which was scheduled for Dec 31st, I resorted to trying the elliptical (too sore), biking (too sore) walking…ok as long as I stuck to 4.0 mph or so. Sigh. So I walked and started doing lots of sit-ups and pushups (yet alas the pushups put too much stress on the knee do to the quad muscles working) ACK? What was I to do? Go nuts and get fat until I could figure out what was wrong and how to help myself? No. I wasn’t willing to go nuts or get fat…so I resorted to slow walking and immersed myself in my sedentary hobby of quilting for many hours a week.

On New Years Day, the day after my MRI, my doc called and revealed: 1) good news-no obvious soft tissue injury-meniscus, ligaments, cartilage all seemed well. I have a thickened plica-yet no conclusions drawn from that. What had been causing my pain was a bone bruise on the inside of my knee. 2) This is good and bad. Good because bone bruises (which are actually micro fractures of the bone marrow as I understand it) will fully heal-the bad news is the initial healing takes usually 6-8 weeks and activity can be done if the individual uses pain as a guide. Although 80% of the healing should be complete in 8ish weeks (add a couple of weeks in some cases) it can take up to a year for a fracture or bone bruise to completely heal itself. In most cases people can be fully active as the final healing takes place. I realized it might take me a little longer to go through the initial healing process because I kept experimenting and trying to run before my diagnosis.

During the past month, until a few days ago, I did not run. Not one step. I have pulled out of races I registered for and have made plans to run others in a couple of months. I have walked (strolled at 4ish mph) many, many miles listening to books on my ipod. I have tried pool running (too much strain on knee) and have used the elliptical trainer in conservative moderation. I have done matt and ball core workouts and I traded in my long weekend training run days for time at home sewing, cooking and doing graduate schoolwork. A couple of weeks ago, to distract myself from being frustrated with not running, I tried out for a community theater play. I will be Agatha (the maid) in The Children’s Hour during the 1st weekend in April. Rehearsals began earlier this week.

My knee is healing and I am soo excited to be again looking forward to training and getting back to racing. Yet I know I must be careful not to rush things. I have run on the treadmill 4x this week 3-5 miles at a time and have traded my flat walking for trail hiking in order to strengthen my ankles and supporting muscles before I venture out to fully running on the rocky, rooty, icy/snowy trails of February in the NC mountains! I am hoping being immersed in the theatre will be a positive and fun focus until I again put lots of energy and time into running trails.

You might be wondering why did an experienced trail runner fall so many times as to really hurt herself? What lessons were learned? This part of the story is important-yet straightforward.

Question: Why did she fall multiple times in the leaves and rocks, if she is used to running in leaves and rocks?
Answer: Because she had sheet metal screws in her shoes. Yes-these were a terrific tool for the icy roads early on…as the route progressed the elevation dropped and we knew there was no ice in the lower elevations.
Question: So why did she continue to run with screws in her shoes even when there was no snow?
Answer: Because she failed to consider that the Blue Ridge Parkway might be closed (which is always a possibility) and we didn’t have drop bags at mile 21 as anticipated. So she got to run over slippery rocks with slippery screws in the soles of her feet.

Needless to say shoes with screws and slick rocks covered with 2 feet of leaves weren’t conducive to me running with much stability!

Uwharrie was run today.I was sad to have backed out-and thought of the runners all day long! Uwharrie 40 was my first ultra in 2003! I really look forward to seeing the results and hearing stories!

What's next for me? I hope to be strong enough to participate in Holiday Lake in 2 weeks...not as a competitor-but I hope to run back of the pack and support some folks who might need some companionship or a bit of a "boost". It will be good for me to get back out there and I think it will be neat to experience an ultra from a different perspective! After that? I hope Way Too Cool in March, Zane Grey in April and WS 100 in June. I am also planning on heading to Richmond VA in May for Montrails Run Like A Girl!

If you are reading this, please send me good wishes of continued healing and patience!


Maurice said...

Best wishes in your recovery. I look forward to reading about many more of your adventures. I also applaud you for your decision to run in the back of the pack to encourage and assist those runners.

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Trackman06 said...

I hope your injury gets better soon. I met you a few years ago and I am a member of Mangum TC. I pr'd yesterday with a 10:17 and cut 90 min of from 2 years ago. Keep up your inspring blog. My daughter runs XC and track for me and thinks that your phenomenal. I looked for you yesterday just to say hi and heard that you were hurt. The course was great and the weather as well. Take care and I hope you get back on the trails soon. Jeff

Sophie Speidel said...


I was looking for you yesterday at Uwharrie, and when I didn't see your smiling face at the start, I knew something was up...I am sooo sorry to hear about your Hellgate mishap!!! The closing of the BR Parkway was A LOT worse for you than anyone else, I fear. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and frustrations and your clever strategies to cope...wish I could see you perform in your play!I know you will be terrific.

As for Uwharrie...I posted my report on my blog. Lots of talented, fast women, many of them new to the 40 mile distance who broke 8 hours! It was a gorgeous day out there, and we missed you. I know next year you will return happy and healthy. Keep your chin up!

I will be at Holiday Lake, experimenting with running the first loop slow, seeing how I feel after Uwharrie's grueling miles, and then, hopefully, picking up the pace for the second loop. I would love your company at any time!

See you then!! HUGS to you, dear friend.

zircon said...


Sorry to hear about your injury. I'm sending healing thoughts and prayers your way. Are you still planning on running the Mt. Mitchell Challenge? I was hoping to run into you there as I attempt my first marathon. Hope your healing continues.

Russ Hiatt

Bedrock said...

Good luck with the healing. I know that has to be very frustrating. I am battling my own demons and am hoping to be back at 100% soon.


Willow Mosley said...

Good luck with your recovery! This year's Uwharrie 40 was my first ultra, and, when I was really nervous about making the leap to ultras, I read your blog for guidance and inspiration. (I did the relay at Triple Lakes, so saw some of your and Bethany's run there).

Too bad you had to miss Uwharrie this was a beautiful day on the trails! I was lucky to have a smooth race (and even to break 8)...but I can hardly walk now!

Hope to meet you at a race sometime.

zircon said...


I am seriously considering your ultra as my first foray into post marathon distances. I'm hoping to use Black Mountain as a sort of measuring stick to make up my mind. It's 89 percent made up already. I just want to get through this distance first to make sure. I thought it would be rather fitting that my first ultra would be one directed by the friend who introduced me to the concept of running distances beyond mararthons. I can't imagine a better race to get my feet wet either. I still remember running into you with my Dad in the grocery store shortly afer a November ultra several years back. My Dad still remembers you and asks if my friend is still running those crazy distances. I have thoroughly enjoyed and been inspired by this blog throughout the fall and winter of preparing myself. Hope I see you in Black Mountain...


g.g. said...

Hey this is Trish...we raced cyclocross together in 2002.I stumbled onto your blog. Awesome to see the results you've had doing Ultras! I wish you a speedy recovery.

Ginger Rockstar said...

Gosh Annette, I'm sorry to hear of your setback. Since my stress fracture after Kettle Moraine 100 I've been dealing with Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis. I've managed to run a few ultras but cannot train well for them so I've decided to take a month off and really work on rehabing the injury. Lately, I feel like I volunteer at these events more than I participate but I suppose that is good and we should be thankful that we have our health. Just know that there are many of us out there in the same position you are now and we get through it with the help of family and ultra running friends (who understand exactly how you feel).

Ginger Rockstar said...

Oh nuts, I didn't realize it would post my ultra nickname. I'm Christine Crawford. aka Ginger Rockstar...don't ask.

Banyon said...

Glad to hear you are doing better. I understand the feeling/frustration of not getting better after an injury, I have been going through the same kind of deal. Your comments help staying focused on what we can do, not on what we can't do.

I'll be at the Holiday Lake race giving support to a friend who running his first Ultra. Hope to see you there.

aarun said...

annette, I'm so sorry to hear about the knee! I'll be sending all my good healing vibes down to you for the next few weeks. If it's any consolation, I can tell you that last year, I hurt my knee because of a fall at Hellgate, and had to take the rest of December, and most of January off of running. As soon as I started to get better, I hurt my foot on the Tuscarora Trail, and had to take off February too. (I was signed up for Uwharrie, but I couldn't do it.)

It was a bummer, but on the bright side, it made me start my training a bit later than I normally would have, and I think it really helped me avoid some over-training issues I have had in the past. It also allowed me to approach my running with a renewed passion when I finally could run again.

So I hope all this gets behind you toot sweet! And have a great time with the play. That sounds like a lot of fun!

aaron schwartzbard

mkirk said...


Glad to read that you're on your way to recovery and you're staying positive. Yeah, we missed you at Uwharrie, but look forward to seeing you out there soon. I really applaud your "extracurricular" activities, awesome!

Marlin Yoder said...

Best wishes as you continue to recover. I enjoyed visiting with you on the way to the Hellgate start; your encouragement helped me through the race. I look forward to seeing you back out on the trails.

Anonymous said...

All the best in your recovery, bone bruises hurt like a b#tch. Have done the same to my ankle and have damaged tendons just to keep me yelping every so every 5th step.

Geoff said...

Just stumbled onto your blog via a google search of the terms "bone bruise running." I was diagnosed with a bone bruise of my medial tibial plateau in January that was a result of overuse (mostly cycling, but also running and soccer) and bad biomechanics. Keep us informed as to your progress. I'm about 5 months out from the first indicies of pain and 2 out from my MRI - and mine still hurts. No running or soccer since early/mid December. I'd love to know how you're letting yourself heal!

Anonymous said...

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KathleenKB said...

Here I am on a Sunday morning and instead of running 10 around the lakes of Minneapolis, I am sitting looking up recovering from a bone bruise on the web and I found your blog. The old saying "Misery loves company" isn't great but in this case it is comforting for me to know that I am not the only one going insane from not running, biking, etc. I had to cancel the Big Sur and Grandma's marathons because of this and it is so frustrating! Mine has been going on since June! So to you and everyone out there in the same situation, keep up the positive energy and send it out to us all!
Kathleen from Minneapolis

KathleenKB said...

Here I am on a Sunday morning and instead of running 10 around the lakes of Minneapolis, I am sitting looking up recovering from a bone bruise on the web and I found your blog. The old saying "Misery loves company" isn't great but in this case it is comforting for me to know that I am not the only one going insane from not running, biking, etc. I had to cancel the Big Sur and Grandma's marathons because of this and it is so frustrating! Mine has been going on since June! So to you and everyone out there in the same situation, keep up the positive energy and send it out to us all!
Kathleen from Minneapolis

lizzie lee said...

Annette, this is exactly where I am at. I was sprinting @ 7:30 min/mile to get to the finish line (the stupidest thing from my part as we, 12Kers, were arriving when the 5K walkers). All of a sudden, I had a mom with a stroller in front of me. A very brusque movement to the side to avoid falling over her, finished my race. No problem.

24 hrs later a terrible knee pain, only while walking. I could move it in any direction, bend, squat, bring to my chest, no pain. Only walking, therefore running. Panic!!! The marathon I've been training for is in 3 weeks, plus a couple of races (a half and a ten miler) before the marathon that I use as training runs.

Conclusion, I have bone bruise at the medial side of the patella. After one week of rest it has gotten better, to the point I decided to still go for the marathon in 2 weeks. I jogged really slow yesterday for 3.2 miles, and it was fine. No pain. Today, I picked up the pace a little (nothing special) and after mile 3 it hurt bad...All this story to ask you how long did your knees take to heal and fully recover?

My Lesson Learned: Never, Ever sprint in a crowded race. Especially when you barely will shave a few seconds of your finish time

take care
any advice will be appreciated

lizzie lee

PS: I don't have the quilting, theater, etc options, and feel like a prisoner at home!!!

Anonymous said...

I hope your healing goes well. I bruised my femur in July very badly. I play ultimate, well used too. I helped move my sister yesterday and as a result, was up all last night with a irritated,tight and sore knee. Normally, my knee is fine until I do any impact activity. I hope this will go away after a year. I hope my healing time is unique and yours will be sooner.