Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Runner Stranded By A Bone Bruise

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Two
04/19/10 - 04/25/10 - Week Total: 16.6 (still injured)

Three weeks before the marathon:

n idiotic sprint to shave some seconds of my 12K finish time, proved to be really idiotic. A crowd of 5K walkers arriving at the same time; a happy mom with a happy baby in a happy stroller in front of a happy me; a brusque lateral movement to avoid falling over mom and baby. End of the race. Great. I felt like a million bucks... till 24 hours later.

Monday: left knee hurt just by walking. Not at rest, nor bending, squatting, bringing knee to the chest, nor biking, nothing. Only walking (Pain 6/10). We know the drill. RICE, aspirin or ibuprofen, arnica. Rest the knee.

Tuesday: continued hurting while walking, more RICE, more anti-inflammatory, more arnica. Stepped on the treadmill, at 0.1 mile it hurt, pain 7/10. However, didn't hurt if I walked with incline, so I did for 1.2 miles at 12%. No pain.

Wednesday: still hurt while walking. Panic. Marathon in 2.5 weeks. Called 5 orthopedic clinics and got an appointment for Thursday. Saw a physical therapist who moved my leg and knee in all directions and no pain was present.
She concluded it was a bone bruise. RICE, ibuprofen, arnica, absolute rest in bed after work.

Thursday: Doctor's appointment. She tried to provoke the pain moving the leg and knee in all directions and pain was again, not present. MRI requested.

Friday: MRI, worked from home, at this point I decided not to RICE it anymore.

Saturday: Pulled out of a race "Wenatchee Half Marathon". Can't gamble. Stepped on the treadmill. 0.75 miles, it hurt. Stopped.

Sunday: Jogged very slow two loops around the lake (1.6 miles each). It felt good. No pain.

Two weeks before the marathon:

Monday: MRI results showed bone bruise of the medial side of the patella. Doctor said no running, no nothing, from 2 weeks to 6 months. How do I know? No clue. Come in two weeks. When I asked about an explanation of the MRI terms, she answered: I don't have time to go through the MRI details. I already explained to you with the drawing I did.

Because I had a Mother Theresa moment, I contained myself and didn't tell her what I should've told her (i.e.: Should I ask for another appointment to go through the details so you can answer my additional questions? Who pays the bill here?). The type of doctor that is not a person, not common in the US according to my experience, but definitely they exist. This doctor is from Seattle Orthopedics International.
I highly NOT recommend her EVER.

I needed a runner's experience. Somebody that has gone through this to learn how he/she recovered... and while googling I stumbled onto ultra-marathoner Annette Bednosky. I would say her case was way more serious than mine. After she fell multiple times running a 100K in Dec 2007, she hurt afterwards doing pretty much everything (e.g. elliptical, bike). Her MRI diagnosis: a moderagte bone bruise. On February,
one month after the MRI, and two after the injury, she was back to running, not at her best, but she was back. Case accepted as my model.

My physical therapist told me the same that the doctor told Annette: Use pain as a guide. And so I did. On Monday I jogged 3 miles and stopped as soon as it hurt. Backed off for two days. On Thursday I jogged the first 1.6 miles and alternated jog/power-walk for two more loops for a total of 4.8 miles. I had more of a soreness than pain (3/10?). Backed off for two days again. Pulled out of my last race before the marathon, a 10-miler in Rochester, WA (I like the place, don't I?)

I went determined to make my decision. Planned on a 8-10 miler at marathon pace with the mandate to stop as soon as it hurt. It didn't hurt. I completed 9 miles with no pain, none whatsoever. Should I assume I am healed? If pain was my only parameter to know, then Eugene is a GO. I am giving up my initial goal of a sub-5 after three weeks of extreme tapering, but that's OK. I am thankful that I am able to run and I am relieved.

I will continue taking care of the knee, not running for a couple of days. On Wed I'll have my final run before the marathon. Then a 4.5-hour road trip on Friday with son and daughter in law. I'll enjoy the stay with my cousins Alvaro & Gladys and their two daughters, Mariale & Camila....I will run in Pre's territory and
visit the place of his accident. We'll drive the course to know where I will be running. This will be the first marathon out of my state and may be the trigger to start my 50/50 quest.

This is the story of A Runner Stranded By A Bone Bruise that felt like a runner stranded in the eight inning, but with the chance to win the game in the 9th.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Surrender To The Universe (The Sequel)

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Three
04/12/10 - 04/18/10 - Week Total: ZERO MILES (or 1.5 miles that is pretty much zero)

In general, my long runs are the source of my writings, and as an important part of them comes the blog title. I like the titles to say in a few words the summary of my running experience for the week. I like them to be creative, and of my own. I love when I come up with something that means a lot to me, but this week I purposely stole the title. And I dedicate this blog to the owner of the original title: Petra.

This week I started my tapering and had plans for running on Sat 4/17 a Pikermi (former Half) in Wenatchee, a little town in Eastern Washington. It happens that Wenatchee was the town where I came to live when I immigrated in 1999 to the United States with my two younger children. We lived there for a year and got interesting memories of our initial experience in the US.

The race was going to be along the majestic Columbia River, my river, as I call it.
The first complete run I had after I moved happened there in the summer of 2000, with my adorable daughter. There were water fountains in the park along the west bank, not being the case in the east bank where orchards border my river. At some hot point we were so thirsty that stole one delicious and juicy apple from one of the orchards. We always remember that day as the day we stole!!!

Before even running the Pikermi in Wenatchee, I already knew the title of my blog for this week: An Apple, An Orchard, My River, My Daughter. But then something happened. In my last race on 4/11, the Seahawks 12K, while sprinting before the finish line I had to dodge a 5K walker in front of me with a stroller. I had to do a very brusque movement towards the right and I felt how my left knee accommodated my leg to avoid falling over the woman. I finished strong.

It was not until 24 hours later that I felt a pain in my knee only while walking. It didn't hurt while sitting, or bending, or squatting, or pressing on it... Nothing, only while walking. No problem, is Monday, I don't run on Mondays....let's RICE it, ibuprofen, and move on!

On Tuesday the pain continued, I continued the RICE, and tried to walk/run on the treadmill just to see how it felt. Couldn't run but noticed I could walk uphill without pain, so I walked 1:30 miles with a 12% incline.

Wednesday, same status. RICE, ibuprofen, and started to get concerned. This was not a runner's knee, or that kind of pain that we know how to treat, manage and go through. Should I run Wenatchee? Would I aggravate the injury? Would I be able to run my big race, Eugene Marathon in 2.5 weeks? A race that I have been preparing for the last 5 months?

A physical therapist saw me on Wed and after an evaluation she thought I have bone bruise. She had very hard time to find where it hurts (as I said, it doesn't hurt at all, unless walking). She pressed several times on all knee areas, and at some point, she got it...that little soft spot between the patella and the tibia. She thought the bruise is in the tibial plateau.

At home I googled some of this and couldn't find anything that could lead me anywhere. I called about 5 orthopedic clinics and found a doctor that had an opening the following day, Thu. After the visit I was in the same place. The doctor moved the knee in every possible direction, I bent, did squats, she pressed every spot and could not provoke the pain. Total absence of pain. I felt like a hypochondriac going to the doctor for no reason, but, you make me walk and the pain is there in a 5-6 level out of 10. X-rays showed nothing. MRI on Fri. Follow up with the doctor on Monday the 19th.

When I got home I felt so good (of course, I have been sitting in my car for 30 minutes) that I laced my running shoes, and went for a run. After 0.2 miles the pain went to 8/10.

Shoes off. Decision made. Wenatchee off. Eugene a concern.

My wise daughter knowing how I get attached to things, told me: "Mom, David Beckham can't play the World Cup, and that's every four years. I bet you can find another marathon as soon as you can run again." She was right. After this conversation I didn't care anymore about Wenatchee, and felt from my inner self that I was already letting go Eugene.

On Fri the 16th, my possible Eugene cancellation was pale compared to what I learned. My dear friend Petra was stranded in London in her way to Boston.

Petra ran Berlin in 2009 with the only goal to qualify for Boston. At mile 17 she had to enter the medical tent, got nauseas, goosebumps, shivering, but with that determination proper of long distance runners and a blanket on her, she continued running to avoid a DNF. She pretty much thought she ran the worst marathon she could ever run, and she, amazingly, converted a DNF in a BQ.

As a methodical and disciplined runner, she was ready for Boston but had some doubts about herself. Then, she realized that she couldn't control everything and wrote "Surrender To The Universe" (the original). She received an overwhelming amount of support; my comments to her were "enjoy the most amazing 26.2 miles than anybody can run, it is Boston, you earned it, smell the roses, no matter what your time is.. who cares?". And with all the support she got, she put behind any bad thought and left her UK town to London to catch a plane to cross the Ocean....She was running Boston!

And a volcano erupted in Iceland.

Petra was
planning on leaving on Friday 16th at 11, and be in Boston around 2. We were planning on talking on the phone this day, as the time difference has been always in our way. But her flight was canceled, like most of European flights, the biggest halt in air traffic since 9/11. The cloud of ashes could cause aircraft engines to fail.

Petra still had some optimism when her flight was re-scheduled for Saturday, was also canceled. Next option available was Monday. Race day. Too late.

I thought of Wenatchee and Eugene. These races are there every year, for every one to run. There will be more marathons this spring that I can join, but Boston is Boston.

I feel so sorry for Petra; I have to recognize there are no words right now to console. Though I know there are worse things in life like a serious illness or a family loss, this is still an adversity hard to swallow. When we run and train for a marathon we invest a lot of ourselves in the process. It is a physical, mental and emotional challenge, it is not just running, it goes beyond that. I am in disbelief, as she is.

This proves again, that life is a challenge, and we have to play the cards we are dealt with. There are things we can control and we have to do our best for those. But there are other things we have no control over. And for those things, we just have to go through the process, assimilate the fact, and simply Surrender To The Universe (The Sequel).

Dedicated to you, my dear Petra.

PS: A ray of sun. Petra will be able to run in 2011.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Simply, John

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Four
04/05/10 - 04/11/10 - Week Total: 32.1 miles

I could mention many highlights for this week. I could describe how I ran my last long run of the marathon training season, a 20-miler. I could describe the feelings of getting in New York Marathon. I could describe my 12K race sponsored by our Seahawks football team. I could describe those things.

But I won't.

Last week's race, Easter Half in Rochester, WA, I met a runner that highly impressed me. His name, John. When he was coming back after the half turn around, he was leading the race and I was amazed by his stride. I thought, "he has to win". Indeed, he won. After the race, we talked for a while and his personality and humbleness impressed me even more. 26 yo kid, not totally dedicated to running.

Today, in the Seahawks 12K, we crossed paths again. We hugged as if we were friends for life. 2 minutes before the start, I shook his hand, and wished him the best. When I was in mile 2.5, he was coming back again leading the pack. Only the police escort was ahead of him. I gave him five, and I felt worried that I could have slowed him down.

After the race, during the awards ceremony, I confirmed he has won with a 5:14 pace. A nice Seahawks Football. I went to congratulate him, and talked for half hour. Again, his personality stroke me. He was just a regular guy, without pretensions. I was intrigued, why he didn't really dedicate to run? He mentioned that he needed to work a lot to sustain his family in Sudan. He has some plans, but needs to move wisely. I was really touched by how his priorities were clear. His family, mom, sisters, nephews and nieces, are first.

We talked about our next races, and wished each other the best and hoped to meet again.

At home I googled and discovered his amazing story. Please, take some time to read it (below the link). It is extremely worth it and teaches us to put everything in the right perspective.

So, the highlight of the week? Not a 20-miler, not NY, not a Seahawks race.

The highlight was Simply, John.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rochester Revisited: Mrs. Lizzie Is Not Dizzy

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - Week Five
03/29/10 - 04/04/10 - Week Total: 26.2 miles
Total March: 100.8 miles
2010 Mileage: 345.8

Nothing like running long races instead of the marathon training long runs. They are a blessing. To run 20 miles or 15 or 13 in a race turns out to be fun, exciting and very different than running miserably alone for 3 to 4 hours.

This past week my long run was a 15 miler. I settled for a 13.1 race as I had two alternatives: Easter Classic in Rochester, WA, and Dizzy Daze in Green Lake, Seattle. The first was located 100 miles away from my home, and the latter only 15 miles. It seemed to be a slam dunk, Dizzy Daze will be.

The Easter Classic course is the same than the Cupid's I ran in February. That small race that was so delighted. It included a marathon, a half, a 10 miles, a 10K, a 5K, a mile and a duathlon. Dizzy Daze was around the lake and included a half (4 laps), a marathon (8 laps), 50 K (10 laps), and 100K (19 laps)!!!

Easter Classic had water stations every 1.5 miles, Dizzy Daze had 1 per lap (every 3 miles). Easter had hot food post race, Dizzy Daze had nothing.

Easter had awards for everything. Dizzy Daze nothing.

Both races cost $50... and while thinking of the price, something hit my brain... Why to pay $50 to run 4 loops around a lake in a park where I often run, for a race that didn't offer anything?. After much thought the Dizzy Daze didn't seem so obvious anymore.... I changed my mind. 100 driving miles will be. I could go on Friday to my son's who lives half way, have dinner with him and his wife, watch a movie. Then on Sat participate in a small, low key race, where you can feel the caring of the organizers.

And after the fact I don't regret a bit. The race was as amazing as the Cupid's. The volunteers, the food, the support, the awards, everything reflected the difference between one race and another.

The weather cooperated, and didn't rain as forecasted. I ran strong, kept a steady pace, and logged my sixth race of the year. It was worthy: Rochester Revisited: Mrs. Lizzie Is Not Dizzy!

John ran an impressive 5:50 min/mile race!

2:26:25 for 11:11 min/mile

Mile 1 - 10:49
Mile 2 - 11:01
Mile 3 - 11:16
Mile 4 - 11:18
Mile 5 - 10:57
Mile 6 - 11;27
Mile 7 - 11:10
Mile 8 - 10:42
Mile 9 - 11:13
Mile 10 - 10:59
Mile 11 - 10:33
Mile 12 - 11:26
Mile 13 - 11:28

On Sunday I ran a virtual 5K race as part of a Series organized by the loopster The Running Bob. I ran at a good pace (never at my 5K pace) but faster than training... It was really interesting to race alone but knowing that is a race!!! And I ran in Easter colors, only missed the bunny ears and the eggs' basket.