Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Injury Report

Technically it's not really an injury I suppose, but the problem with my hip is that the underlying issue causes injuries. I can pretty much attribute all running injuries I've ever had, except for when I ran into that tree and busted my head open, on this hip problem. 

At first I was so happy to have found a doctor who actually listened to me when I said my hip was causing me pain. Others had said, "haha, what do you mean 'hip'? You are pointing to your femur!" to which I would've liked to respond, "yeah I'm familiar with anatomy, thankyouverymuch." Both hips cause intermittent pain, which made me think I was crazy, just having psychosomatic pain, or sympathy pain. Or that I don't really know how hips are supposed to feel. I thought that worst case scenario, my bad hip would have a labral tear that really needed fixing. 

It seems my good left hip may have a labral tear. The doctor was showing me the X-ray and I was all turned around and said something about my bad hip and he said, "oh no, that's your left hip. The right hip has a different problem." It's dysplastic. My first response was, "did I cause this?" I didn't. But we decided based on symptoms that while I have had dysplasia all my life, a certain 2008 Little Rock half marathon, followed by a 7 mile cool down, which caused a lot of groin pain later, was probably when my hypertrophied (and stabilizing) labrum was torn, causing my hip to become very unstable and gradually more painful. 

I can blame my 16 year old "hamstring tendinitis" to pain coming from my joint capsule, as well as my Achilles tendinitis, back pain, tensor fascia lata pain, knee pain, my crazy knock-kneed form, and even my gimpy pregnancy leg on this unstable hip. Can I attribute poor swimming to it? Yes! Why not?

The real fix for this is a periacetabular osteotomy, where they cut out your acetabulum and reposition it with very large screws. "It sounds worse than it is," the doctor told me. Um, no it doesn't. I mean really. It sounds exactly as terrible as it is. 

I said to the doctor, "I can't be non- weight bearing," since the recovery includes like 8 weeks of it. He said that indeed I could be. Actually, I have a 2-year old and I'm not allowed to even sit on the couch for more than 15 seconds at a time, so...not really. 

But first things first. I cried only a few times before realizing that I don't have to have a PAO, especially not immediately. The angles of my acetabulum hood (whatsitcalled?) seem to my in house doctor to be better than he is measuring, and the radiologist reported that I have minimal cartilage damage based on the MRI. Doctor Downer thinks it is worse than that, so he is getting another read on it. I went in for a CT scan (extra radiation is always helpful), from which he is going to have a cool computer generated, 3D interactive model of my hip created to see exactly how good my coverage is. I agreed to this mostly because I want him to be wrong about how bad it looks.

So! Now I see why people avoid the doctor! If only I could remain ignorant and go about my running. I had this thought in the back of my mind: I just want to make sure I'm not doing permanent damage to my hip. Well yay because I am. I could always avoid the PAO and just get a total replacement when it gets bad enough in 10 years ("you'd be lucky to make it 10 years," said Dr Downer). 

For now I have cut back on the running and just got some new Hokas, which I tried for the first time today. I figure extra cushioning, but with a minimal heel to toe drop, and a nice toe roll off could help preserve some of my cartilage. I'm doing all my physical therapy exercises, but just couldn't justify actually going to the PT a few times a week and paying $30 for him to give me a set of Jane Fonda leg lifts to do, leaving for 10 minutes, then returning to give me a set of transverse abdominus exercises, leaving again, etc. I mean, who has time for that? But I do appreciate his input. The strengthening has possibly reduced some of my pain recently, at least in my dysplastic side. The good side, though, seems to be compensating. 

Do me a favor, all of you pain- and injury-free people out there? Run a few miles for me and enjoy it. At least I appreciate my poor hard working legs more than ever.

Oh right, they've been gone for a while. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Days

We are having a blast this summer. At least I am, and given the excitement that Hunter has to wake up every morning (just a tiny bit too early for his mom), he must be as well.

Our garden is growing well, and I have to admit that I'm surprised every day how much rich soil and water can make a difference in the sheer size of plants. My squash plants in New Mexico were a foot tall at their best, producing hard yellow bumpy squash that I had to peel to render edible. Our current squash plant could take over the yard with the help of the cucumber plant, that sends its little tendrils out to wrap around anything that will sit still long enough.

Our albino eggplant

The blackberry bush that borders our front side yard between us and the unmanicured lot next to us has given us daily treats, enough to make a blackberry cobbler, and supply snacks to us, the cousins, and the neighborhood birds.  Delish.

 A staple summer activity for me is picking blueberries, and since we don't have one growing at our house yet (soon!), we ventured out to the local picking farm, where we even got to see a giant pig, tiny horse, and goats after our blueberry sampling. 

The 4th of July holiday we spent eating, swimming, and horsing around with Nana and Granddaddy and Ethelyn. Somebody wore his Euro-baby swimsuit in their secluded back yard. 

Ready, set, jump!

And speaking of swimming, Hunter is having a blast at our neighborhood pool, jumping in, around, and even under the water occasionally and accidentally. It doesn't seem to bother him much.
 And then there are sprinklers. And hoses.

Since the weather threatened to turn fall on us for a while, we went to the zoo to feed the giraffe, and hang with the cousins, except for Annie and her brand new baby brother! who we hope to meet soon!

 Indoors, we create a lot of things, like a Hunter original design, this forklift.

There is a bit of an obsession with trucks and heavy machinery equipment here lately, and if you watch the Bulldozer video on youtube by TwentyTrucks, you may have that catchy 80s beat song going through your head as you try to fall asleep every night. My big boy is asking a million actually really good questions lately, like where things come from. He knows how water gets into plants, how concrete mixers work, what color fruits and veggies turn when they are ripe, soup recipes, which climbing wall at the playground mommy does not like (it's super scary), how a grader works, how many shanks a ripper usually has, what a coupling rod is, etc etc. And then he teaches me what he's learned, demonstrating each step and how things work. "See? Like this." :)

And when I can get him to sit still, I hand him markers and crayons. I told him once how to write an H, and a week later he repeated back to me, "down, down, across."

 I have been riding some, running a tiny bit, and swimming less. A nighttime 5k sounded fun last weekend, so I rode my bike over from the closest River Trail parking lot, a couple miles down the trail to another park where the race was held. I'd registered the day before, so all I needed to do was hit the potty and warm up. When my key almost fell out of my unzipped shorts pocket I realized that I hadn't zipped it because I'd forgotten to lock the car. So I rode another 3ish miles back to the car, then realized on my way back to the race start that I was cutting it pretty close. As I neared the start line I could see a hundred bright orange shirts lining up to start, and I wondered what makes people wear the race t-shirt during the race. Then I rode cyclocross style over the grass and tree roots to the nearest permanent cement structure that looked suitable for a bike lock. 

Sprinting over to the start line was my run warm up. And then we took off up and over the Big Dam Bridge. Just as we leveled off at the bottom of the other side, around we turned and up and over again we went. I had to chase down a few women more than once, but I ended up beating them all on the second downhill somehow. And then the race was 3.2 miles and I forgot to stop my watch anyway. I'll just calculate it as a 6:35-:37ish pace and be less than thrilled about it. That bridge is big. The post race sunset, the bug-splattered bike ride back along the river, and the chirping crickets singing were just pure summer.

And of course, we have tried to do some relaxing during the hot summer days.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Firecracker 5k

Finally something to think and write about besides my hip! Except running definitely reminds me of my hip-- constantly. 

The Firecracker 5k takes place in the middle of town, a point to point, helping it to be super fast. I really meant to train for it! Cramming in a track workout 5 days before doesn't really count, but it did help my confidence. 

Also helping my confidence these days is the Queen of the Mountain (or flats, whatever) segments that I can win on my newfound competitive outlet, Strava. All I need is a former state champion cyclist's wheel to hang on, and maybe a better idea of where these segments begin and end, and I'll be cleaning up. I had the former this week for my initial few titles, and it was super exciting to get all those little trophies, however temporary they may be. 

Anyway, back to the 5k. I warmed up 2 very slow miles between a porta potty stop and trying to find some bushes because I was NOT standing in that line again. I headed to the starting line, where the day's lineup was being announced by a familiar voice--an old Memphis teammate of mine. Then I saw another familiar face in the RD. I'll sidetrack again by saying that if you race Start to Finish events often, you may not realize how spoiled you are until you get to, like, southern New Mexico (hypothetically speaking of course). Only then do you realize how much of a difference all the little things, like an awards ceremony an hour after race start, and big things, like instantaneous printable and online results, make. 

So, the race! I felt like I wasn't warmed up sufficiently for the first mile. My "bad" hip was feeling ok, but the "better" one was extra painful, as was my knee. Hoardes of women sprinted out ahead of me, and I slowly drew a few back in within the first mile, in 6:15. We started with a few rollers, but it smoothed out by the mile mark. 

The second mile is usually the hardest in a 5k, isn't it? It's really starting to hurt and you're not close to being finished. Well this one was perfect. It contained exactly one small uphill; the rest was downhill. I picked off a few more women. 6:00

The third mile started out still going down, but quickly became painful as we turned a corner to a long gradual uphill that hurt my legs, lungs, and brain. Knowing I was going to be killing my average pace, I didn't dare look at my Garmin. Who wants to witness the average pace jump like that? I figured it would be about 8 minutes, with the fatigue I was feeling, but I made it in 6:30. An endless .15 mi later the finish line came and I crossed, with a 19:27, and immediately puts hands to knees to reduce the pain. The photographer finally came over to check on me since I was probably obstructing his view of the runners crossing the tape. Oops. 

My cool down consisted of running the course backward to cheer and get back to my car. But chatting along the way made me miss my AG award, which I believe was 2nd or 3rd, given that a couple of the other 7 women that beat me were old like me. The award I was really going for was first OA in the hip dysplasia category. I'm pretty sure I won that one.  

Glad my face of pain is obstructed here