The Journey to Western States 100 (vol. 2)
It has now been nearly two and a half months since the Western States 100 lottery. For most of December, I did not spend any time thinking about training. Instead, I focused on enjoying my time running, whether I ran 30 miles or 5, deep in the mountains or on the road. My goals were to recover fully, both physically and mentally, from Waldo 100k/Pine to Palm 100/Javelina 100, to stay healthy, and to continue to find joy with movement. I was successful. December was a blissful month of fabulous running, spent with good friends in beautiful places.
In January, I eased myself into training, although my weekly mileage was already fairly high. I felt great. I felt strong. I got faster with every run. I started training with my friend Larry, running 25-30 miles every Saturday, him pushing me to find my limits with every passing mile. I had never felt better or stronger.
At the beginning of February, I moved in with family temporarily while searching for new place to live. One morning 16 days ago, after finishing another fabulous run, I stepped into the shower, tripping over my nephews' toys and falling on the right side of my coccyx/glute so hard that I felt a shock vertebrate up my spine and into my head. I sat for several minutes, stunned and in tears from the pain. For the next day, I was lightheaded and nauseous, and my neck was stiff. Still, I was able to run without issue, and that's what was important. And then I couldn't. The following Sunday, four days after my fall and six days before my first race of the year, I set out for a short run. Only minutes in, the sacral region of my back started to hurt so much that I had to loop back to my car. By that afternoon, I was barely able to walk. I rested the rest of the afternoon and the next day, doing only my regular yoga routine. When I tried running the following Tuesday, I felt a sharp pain shoot from my low back into my glute. I was not able to run.
Having suffered several severe injuries in the past, having worked with injured athletes in the last year, and knowing how ambitious my plans this year are, I made the conscious decision to take a proactive approach to facing this injury and ceased all activity, using a variety of therapies (including ice, heat, anti inflammatories, massage therapy, and yoga) until I could see my athletic trainer. My massage therapist confirmed that I had a neck strain and that the tension had spread down my back. She speculated that I had a ligament tear in my sacral region. After my AT examined me last Monday, her working diagnosis was a low back strain and a glute strain. She gave me strengthening exercises to facilitate recovery and muscle activation, but the only thing that would heal the injuries would be time. I needed to be patient.
Time. It's always what medical providers say we need to give our injuries, but it never seems to pass quickly enough. Every day I do my exercises as prescribed, and every day I try to run. I crosstrain to maintain fitness and strength. I can feel the injuries improve with each passing day, but the pain is still prominent and constant. While my frustration continues to grow (now 16 days post fall and 12 days since I last ran), I find calm in knowing that, for once, I took the right approach to healing. So, for now, I wait.