Friday, March 25, 2011

Going on four weeks...

...since my last long run.

It all started on Sunday, February 20th during a soccer game. Two of us went for the ball, I got to it first, the other player got me instead. He caught me just outside of the shinguard and ankle padding on the lateral side of my right leg. Ouch! - but nothing too terrible, happens all the time in soccer. I continued to play with no problems (Can't remember if the kick was in the first or second of the games I played that night).

Monday was a holiday (and normally a day off from running) but friends were in town, so I ran. Nothing too strenuous - 7.5 miles of hilly snowmobile trail (Same route I had run the day before with another friend). Conditions were quite firm, leg felt fine. By then I had forgotten about the kick completely.

Tuesday I ran again. 6 miles on snowmobile trails, still pretty firm so footing was stable. Noticed a sore spot on the outside of my leg and remembered the kick. Again, nothing too bad and soon forgotten.

Wednesday met up with the winter running group for six miles on the Lakewalk. Nice run, solid footing, leg felt fine.

Thursday (which is for running to work) I was feeling a bit tired so opted for the short route. It was icy through the park and I was forced to take it quite easy. I did notice a quick spasm in the calf early in the run, but it quickly resolved.

Friday was a day off from running. Instead I finalized plans for an adventurous long run with my friend Sam in the woods outside of Gooseberry State Park.

Saturday Sam and I headed north. We were going to run the snowmobile trail out of Gooseberry until it met up with the North Shore State Trail. Sam's goal was 18 or so miles. I was happy with 17. We both forgot that we would be climbing a lot as we headed inland out of the park. I could tell I was tired from the jump in mileage that week (my weekly mileage had been topping out in the mid-20's and I had hit 30 by Thursday). To complicate matters, none of the mileage signs seemed to agree with each other, the state park map or Sam's GPS.

The trail was quite firm, but not hard, and the small amount of snow that had fallen the day or so before was well packed down by the snowmachines and groomer. The footing was as ideal as it gets for winter running. I had put screws in my trail shoes for this outing and Sam had her yaktraks on. We encountered very little ice that day (a pleasant change from the icy conditions leading up to this run).

I was definitely feeling the gradual climbs and admit I was a bit whiney at times. Nothing like long gradual uphills to make you feel old and slow. To add to my problem the water tube and bite valve on my hydration pack kept freezing. At the first break I had to stop, take the pack off, disassemble the hose and mouth piece and thaw things out (I quickly learned to tuck the hose/mouth piece into my armpit to keep it warm not just inside my jacket).

As we climbed we left the lake, and the clouds, behind and emerged into the sunlight. It was gorgeous!!! We encountered only 18 snowmobilers the whole time we were out and they were all very generous in sharing their trail.

Sam outside an adirondack shelter along the trail.
Believe this is on a branch of the Gooseberry River.
There was an outhouse off to the left.

At the junction with the North Shore State Trail.

Even in the single digits there was open water along the trail.

My best guess is something in the weasel family - pine martin perhaps?
I love how the photo makes the tracks look raised vs indented.

Fun with shadows

Sam went on ahead as we neared the turn around point as she wanted more miles than I did (and I am slower). This also gave me time to enjoy a break and a snack while I waited for her return. The trails meet up in a open area, so it was nice that there wasn't a wind. The run back to the park went much faster (or so it seemed) and it became evident that indeed we had been running uphill the whole way out!

In the last miles my right lower leg began to hurt. Soon it took a lot of focus to set the pain aside and push on (it helps that we had been out for over three hours and I was ready to be done). As we neared Hwy 61, with each step it began to feel as if something was about to 'give' and I got a bit worried. We made it to the park headquarters and headed to the car to grab our dry stuff and then back to the building to change. I was a bit gimpy at this point, but no worse than I have been after many a long race.

The plan was to stop in Two Harbors for pizza and we found our way to Do North Pizzeria.
By then, despite the clothing change, I was just chilled enough to have lost circulation to my hands. One of the staff was kind enough to fill a glass with hot water for me so I could warm my hands. I think one look at them convinced him I wasn't nuts for the request.

Raynaud's flare (from a different episode - grocery stores can be hell with this phenomenon)
Sam, trying to fit into the frame with the pizza
16" pizza after two runners finish up.

By the time I arrived home my leg was stiff and climbing the 36 steps to the house with my gear was a bit painful. Iced my leg, applied arnica and figured things would be better in the morning.

Sunday I play soccer. I woke up with a lot of pain and unable to descend stairs or walk normally. Not wanting to let my teammates down I thought I could at least show up and stand in front of the goal. I suited up, tried to take a few "running" steps and immediately knew I was done for the night. I couldn't move without severe pain. My lower leg looked normal, no bruising or swelling. But it was incredibly tender to the touch in the area I had been kicked the week before.

What the heck?!?!

That Monday I had a co-worker (PA) check it out as I was a bit worried about a stress fracture. She poked around a bit and thought it was most likely soft tissue damage. So: ice, arnica, rest. By Wednesday the pain was a bit better but I was still limping so I scheduled an appointment with my chiropractor for some deep tissue work. He did an exam and came to the same conclusion - muscle/tendon trauma. Worked on the area for a bit, applied some kinesio tape and said to take it easy for awhile and keep icing. Running wasn't advised but it was up to me. (My legs felt great after the long run - other than this one area - which made it hard to want to take any time off).

I did walk three miles that evening. Painful - but more in a tight muscle sort of way. I took Thursday off (it felt very, very strange not to be running to work!).

Saturday morning (3/5) I met up with friends for a run and then breakfast in a nearby town. It hurt to run, but by taking walking breaks I made it through 5 miles. Once I stopped the pain was constant and I took the 800 mg ibuprofen a friend offered.

Since then I have managed to run only one mile on three separate occasions. Each time the run starts out feeling okay, if a bit painful, and then gets worse with each step. Not good. I have continued getting some deep tissue work and seem to be making progress (can walk down stairs without pain, no longer limping, not waking up due to pain, etc).

This Tuesday I went back in ready to ask for an x-ray as it just seemed like this was taking too long to heal. Often stress fractures/hairline fractures do not show up on x-ray initially so I had not been in a hurry to pay for a procedure that wasn't going to be definitive and wouldn't necessarily change what I was doing. After some discussion (I am not fond of being x-rayed for any reason) I opted for another exam first. My chiropractor noted some "crunchiness" to the tissue (and I continued to have to hold myself onto the table when he was working on the area) and opted to try a new technique utilizing a stainless steel tool. Within less than 5 minutes the pain in the area diminished greatly! Pressure that only a few minutes before had me on the verge of tears was now easily bearable. It was like a miracle. The tape went back on, I left and proceeded to ice the area as often as I could that day.

Tomorrow I get to test the leg. I plan to join friends for a nice short little run (nor more than 3 miles). The area where I was kicked is still slightly tender to touch but overall feels more like a healing sprain than anything else. I am hopeful that things are on the upswing and I will be back in training mode soon. I am also hoping that I did not lose too much conditioning over the past few weeks of idleness.

Being idled by injury has freed me up to do more knitting. I am well under way on the 2nd toe sock after stalling out trying to redesign toe #5 and getting the fit just right on the first sock. There will be a separate post on the socks, but here is a sneak peak:
BTW - blogger is acting up and messing with the fonts - not sure why. So, my apologies as I cannot seem to figure out what the problem is.


SteveQ said...

I like the new header photo.

I'm supposed to be doing my long run as I type this... so you can guess how the training's going. Seeing the photos from the trails, I keep thinking how I'd like to be out there, but then I remember a simple run at Afton nearly killed me, so I just have to wait a bit.

April can't come soon enough.

wildknits said...

Thanks Steve. Bonfire last weekend (it was so windy that the flames shot over 40 feet into the air and we all ducked into the trees to avoid the flying embers).

I made it through 3 miles with almost no pain!!!! Longest run in almost a month and the first one with no pain.

I haven't been so ecstatic about a short run in years ;->

You "southerners" have had much worse weather than us. I drove past the SHT today and it was looking pretty clear in my neighborhood.

Mike said...

Sounds like you are being pretty patient, pain free running is fun, at least I think it is :-).

You will be back running long in a few more weeks. I agree with Steve as well, very nice new header picture.

wildknits said...

Thanks Mike!

I am trying to be patient and not overdue it. Now not to go crazy and run too much, too soon.