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!