Saturday, April 9, 2011
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.
Posted by Jef Mallett at 5:38 PM