Thursday, April 21, 2011

Patty says: It was OK. Really.

(Hi, everyone. Remember me?)

So Jef and I have returned from Boston, where, as I think most of you know by now, Jef did NOT run the Boston Marathon despite qualifying for it last October in Detroit and managing to land one of the coveted entries a day or two later.

(For the few of you who don't know: He's hurt. He slipped on a patch of snow in February and injured his hip and then, based on some bad advice from people who should have known better and excessive optimism on his part, continued to train on it until he had all but crippled himself. He has an MRI on Monday to try to figure out what's wrong so it can be fixed so that, with any luck at all, he can try this again NEXT year.)

Here's the good news:

Because we were standing together at the 23-mile mark (instead of running somewhere in the midst of 26,000+ people and standing at the whatever mile mark watching for a single runner in the midst of 26,000+ people) on Monday, we got to watch Geoffrey Mutai and Moses Musap smoke their way past us en route to the fastest Boston Marathon finishes ever. 

The top four men (including Ryan Hall, who ran the fastest marathon ever by a U.S. runner) all beat the course record set last year, and Mutai finished in 2:03:02 (!). (While that's the fastest marathon ever, it won't be recognized as a world record because Boston's a downhill course.)

We got to see three of the fastest women on the planet battling it out, too. Caroline Kilel of Kenya took the race at 2:22:36, while American Desiree Davila, who was in the lead as they ran past us, finished four seconds behind.

We got to see some old friends and make some new ones, too. I got to enjoy the fact that my MS-impaired gait was mistaken for post-marathon runner's gait (it is, in fact, remarkably similar) on Monday night and Tuesday. We had a great time.

Jef was a really good sport about it all.

But my heart broke every single time I watched him watch someone else limp by on Tuesday wearing a finisher's medal...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jef says hip, hip, no hooray

As one lemming said to the other, this March didn't turn out the way I pictured it.

Before I bury the lead by more than that one sentence, let's get it out: I won't be racing the Boston Marathon this year.

Apologies for failing to keep you updated through, oh, basically the entire process. Social protocol says it's not polite to brag, and training was going so well through February that that's what it felt like. Social protocol says the same thing about whining. Of course, writing is basically all about bragging and whining and ignoring social protocol, so it appears I've seriously lost my bearings in terms of running and writing.

But I aim to fix both. With the one, I guess I'll have to wait for some tests to see what to do. With the other, here I go:

Five weeks of not running and the same amount of good physical therapy after the injury came to a head, it was time to try a test run. I had behaved myself, done all the prescribed activities and none of the forbidden ones. Pain levels were down to zero or near- zero, depending on when you asked, and my strength and flexibility in the crucial areas were deemed good. And I was coming down with the flu, a fine check on any temptation to overdo. This was Sunday. I ran a whole mile. Burned up the block at a 9:48 pace, I did. And oh, my goodness, did it hurt. The medical profession likes to ask people to place their pain on a scale of 1 to 10, which I always thought seemed a bit facile for something so subjective. I know it was enough to make me breathe like I was redlining it while my heart rate relaxed at a nice, easy, pace-appropriate level in the 120s. And it hurt the exact same amount from the first step to the final one. Then I iced it and took a shower, and the pain levels were already back to close to zero. Interesting.

So when it was time for the second test run on Thursday, the plan was to double up and run all of two miles, or longer if the pain remained steady like on Sunday. We needed to know if more running would make it better or worse. Maybe it was just a matter of certain idle tissues needed to be warmed up and reacquainted with running. Or maybe I was still pretty hurt.

It didn't stay steady, and it didn't get better. It started the same way, with intense, very localized pain. (Hip pain is odd; there's so much tissue there that you can tell a pain is localized without necessarily being able to name the location. In this case, though, it was easy to identify the bull's-eye as the ball-and-socket area itself.) The pain level increased (I was impressed; there didn't appear to be a lot of room for more) and gradually flooded more and more of the area until the whole right side of my pelvis was lit up - without losing that special stabbing in the socket.

And this time my heart rate bounced along in the high 160s to match my panting, though that may have been due more to the now fully involved flu. Also significant was the non-recovery. Ice, shower, heat, more ice, more heat … 36 hours later, the pain is still right there. Twelve hours later, my physical therapist gave me the talk.

But I knew Thursday, by the time I walked back in the house. Patriots' Day would be spent as a spectator. A spectator at the world's greatest footrace, which isn't what I had in mind but, let's face it, not a bad way to spend a Monday.

After that, we'll see what happens. My sports doctor - and there is none better than Jeff Kovan at MSU Sports Medicine - has hinted at more tests. A very good friend who's also a physical therapist to elite athletes tells me they might do something called a "grind test," about which I know nothing except that it clearly wasn't named by the most skilled public-relations agency. There will probably be some dye injected somewhere and more expensive pictures shot. If it gets too unpleasant, I'll just call my dad and ask him about his colonoscopy.

Then we do what we need to do and it's full speed ahead. There's a triathlon season coming up. And at the end of that season is the Detroit Marathon. I'm already signed up. I'll be 50 next spring, so I only need to run a 3:35 to return to Boston. Which I intend to pad with at least a 20-minute cushion. My hip's a mess, but apparently the ego is just fine.