Friday, January 29, 2016

Wait, What? But...

In the first week of December, the wheels came off. After running only 25 miles a week for all of November, I was beginning to ramp up my mileage. Jed Smith 50k was ten weeks away, and I was excited to put in a few solid training blocks in preparation for my 2016 racing season. On Saturday, December 5th, at the Western States lottery, I could tell something was amiss. My right foot was numb, and if I stood for too long, excruciating cramps would radiate down my right leg from my piriformis. I scrapped the 16 miler on my schedule and made an appointment with my A.R.T. chiropractor. Whenever I received tissue-work in the effected areas, my foot would go from numb to tingling...

After three treatments, I hared my first course for the Cougar hash house harriers. We began and ended at Fieldwork Brewing Company (where I can be found most afternoons). I loosened up as I ran, despite having to bend over and mark the pavement every half a block or so. By the time I had finished the 5 mile run, I could tell my back and leg were fatigued. The next two days were horrific. I could not stand for more than 30 seconds, and walking was not much better. Only sitting provided relief. Whatever was going on, it wasn't getting better. I had a couple more A.R.T. sessions before reaching out to Ann and other resources for advice.

Disc extrusion at L-5/S-1
I began seeing Physical Therapist Marty Mattox at Ultrahealth in San Francisco. She gave me some strengthening exercises to do and told me to stay positive. I would run again. Fast forward past a vacation confounded by a family medical emergency over the holidays, and the symptoms persisted into the new year. Marty advised me to visit my doctor and begin making arrangements to get an MRI to determine the source of the nerve impingement. I was able to fast track the process, and by mid-January I had my answer: extruded disc at L-5/S-1. The good news is that I don't need surgery. The bad news is that running is probably not the best thing I can do for myself right now.

Horizontal and vertical view of my extruding disc
That said, I am hopeful that with continued cross training and strengthening I will be able to gradually introduce running to my plan. Jed Smith is off the table. Twirly and I will be volunteering at American Canyon 15k/25k/50k on February 6th, as there is no way I should be running 5k, much less 15k at this point. I am hoping to attempt Way Too Cool 50k in March and Gorge Waterfalls 50k in April. If I am unable to run Miwok in May, I don't see how I could get into shape for Angeles Crest 100 in August. So, Miwok has become my "A" race for the year. It will provide me with a WS100 qualifier if I can get through it. I'll look at AC100 after Miwok.

I am still excited about the coming year. In addition to over-coming this newest hurdle, I'll continue helping Victory Sportdesign in their pursuit of providing the perfect utility bag for outdoor adventures. A kick-starter campaign is in the works for this winter, introducing the new Grizzly model bag, which is my favorite of the line thus far. There will be tons of sweet incentives and rewards, so keep your eyes open for that. I will provide a link to the campaign once it gets off the ground, so stay tuned!

This injury isn't like the others. I cannot blame it on a trauma. And nerve pain is such a different animal than muscle or joint pain. It can be truly incapacitating. I was near tears at times. The depression that stems from my body betraying me in such a way is hard to confront. I have been distant to those who love me, and with the complications of familial medical issues, I feel as though I am operating in a haze. I am in a holding pattern, looking for some way to get back to training. Back to the theraputic effect of logging miles, nothing but the sound of my footfalls and my breath.

The trail ahead is dark but holds promise...