Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year End Update

Well, I'm finally forcing myself to publish a blog post before 2015 arrives. There isn't too much to review about my 2014 racing season due to my injury, but I'm overdue for an update. I'll try to make it quick.

The injury that sidelined me for almost all of 2014 actually started during the summer of 2013 so I wanted to begin there. It was then that I began experiencing mild groin pain on the left side that felt like a muscle pull. I ran through the summer of 2013 and raced Hood to Coast, a small road 50 miler in Cincinnati, and Run for the Toad 50k in Canada all as my injury worsened. The pain had spread and grown more severe by Tussey Mountainback and I was forced to drop. I dramatically reduced my mileage and temporarily recovered enough to race the North Face 50 mile championship last year. Despite still being in pain, I finished a respectable 11th place off of residual fitness.

After North Face I ran an easy 3 miles every day to maintain my stupid 7.5 year daily running streak. No trails, no hills, no workouts. In late January 2014, I attempted to race the Mtn Mist 50k while clearly not yet healthy. At this point, the loss of fitness was beginning to catch up with me, and I had a horrible race. I stubbornly continued my running streak into March when I finally decided to visit a sports med doctor.

I knew groin injuries were notoriously hard to accurately diagnose and I felt confident I had a "sports hernia," but was hesitant to see a Dr. that didn't specialize in this type of injury. So I delayed until I got a strong recommendation for a doc in Cincinnati. He ordered an x-ray, MRI, and blood tests.

And the MRI showed a huge stress fracture in my pelvis. My doctor said "You damn near broke all the way through the bone" when he saw the image. What's more, my blood work showed I had low vitamin D and high blood calcium levels. Without going into too much detail, that's a bad combination when you're body is trying to repair damaged bone.

Once the stress fracture diagnosis came back, I completely quit running and ended my streak. I knew a pelvic stress fracture would take longer to heal that a typical stress fracture because it's a big bone that doesn't get much blood flow, but I did not know exactly how long. After 6 weeks of no running, I could feel barely any improvement. It still hurt walking the dog. At three months, I felt better walking so I tried couple days of running, but it was clearly not healed enough so I shut it down again. Moderate hikes were still bothering me at 4 months.  In August I borrowed a bike and started cycling just to be able to do something outdoors.  In September I started doing weekly 1 mile test runs but wasn't ready. In October I was able to do 2-3 mile runs every couple days.

Finally in November, after 7 months of virtually no running, I worked up to 24 miles in a week with no groin pain. Unfortunately, lingering imbalances from my weakened left hip caused tendonitis to flare up in my knee. I backed off for a while, but it still wasn't healing well enough, so I stopped running again December 21st and have decided to wait until the new year to resume running.

To say the least, it was a very tough year for me. In some ways, the stress fracture news was a relief because it allowed me to let the streak go and begin healing. But I didn't think it would take this long to heal. I enjoyed the time off for a while. Unlike some folks, I don't go stir crazy when I quit training, I just find other stuff to do. I don't love exercising; I love training. I love competing, racing, and improving myself. And I love running. Cycling is fun, but it isn't running. I still have the fire. I just need to finish getting healthy. The good news is that I feel better today than I have at any point in the last 18 months.

Finally, I want to say a big thanks to Salomon and Suunto for sticking with me this year even though I wasn't doing much to support the brand. They are part of a great company that clearly cares about their athletes as much as their bottom line. I'm also excited to announce that I'll be on the team again in 2015. Even though I wasn't running much in 2014, I still discovered some great products that I plan to share in an upcoming blog post, so be ready.

I hope to see you all out on the roads and trails in 2015.

6 comments:

  1. Dave - what a tough year. Your optimism is inspiring though. Thanks for the update - I enjoy reading your blog and find it very motivating. I'm looking forward to you getting back at it. As for the tendonitis - I effecively ran through a bout of lower inner patellar tendonitis in Oct/Nov - it did take about 7 weeks to clear though. By the time I decided I should take time off, I was only 3 weeks our from my marathon. As long as it wasn't getting any worse, running was okay. It just got a little better every week, but I could definitely "feel it" on every run. Streching the quads and foam rolling helped the most. Hang in there.

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  2. Yes. Hang in there. I am a veteran of this same injury, with the same timeline as yours, and once diagnosed and rehabbed the injury continued to rear itself with tightness and inflamation in surrounding muscles - adductors, abs, high hamstrings, etc. I pool ran, cycled and eventually started swimming to stay in shape. After years of my wife trying to get me to go to yoga with her, I tried hot yoga. I'm now hooked, and really credit it with aiding in my recovery. I'm back running in the mountains, pain free, a couple months now - so far, so good. Every run without pain brings more confidence. Best of luck to you -

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    1. Thanks for the comments, DaBracks. It sounds like you experienced exactly what I'm going through. It's good to know I'm not alone, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone else.

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  4. Dave, what a great article! I have been dealing with a similar issue since last October. I crashed bike at 22 mph going over the bars and separated my shoulder and broke several ribs. It's been one thing after another since then and my left testicle pain an groin pain is almost identical to what you mention you had. I even felt like jolts of electricity going into my hips from time to time. I also felt a strange strain while doing let presses in my groin soon after my accident which could be a factor. Anyway, I've seen my regular Dr., gone to the ER which did an ultrasound of my testicles, and been referred to a urologist who suspected prostatitis and treated me for that. I'm tired of getting the runaround and was wondering if you could let me know what Dr you were referred to? Thanks, Jon

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